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Microchips and Your Pet
(updated 10/08/2007 thanks to Andy Kluck and Jeremy with their
input and corrections)
What You Should Know Before Microchiping Your Pet -
Microchiping, your pet is the best way to positively identify
your pet. But the reality of how effective it is depends upon how many
animals are micro chipped in your area and how many shelters and vets
in your area routinely check for microchips.
Even if your area shelters routinely check for microchips,
please keep a collar or harness with an ID tag on your pet with your
current phone number. The first person
to find your pet will not have a microchip scanner will but probably
have a cell phone.
There is more to microchiping your pet than just the microchip.
A microchip system relies on three components:
1) The microchip - a small grain of rice sized glass encapsulated
computer chip with an identification number and miniature antenna implanted
under the skin.
2) The scanner - A device which emits the proper radio signals
to activate and “read” the information in the chip. The
microchip reflects a weak radio signal encoded with that identification
number when illuminated by the radio signal emitted by a compatible
3) The database - An information archive with the records that match
the identification number in the microchip to the owner’s contact
information. The information in this database
must be current to be of any value.
4) If you plan to travel internationally and take your pet with
you be sure and check the identification requirements in the countries
you plan to visit. PetTravel.com
is a good place to start.
Providers of Microchips and Services
- In Feb. 2007, AKC CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) and Electronic
ID Devices, Ltd. (EID) entered into a distribution agreement, where
AKC CAR become the exclusive distributor of TROVAN microchips in the
United States. See - AKC
CAR Introduces New Microchip ID System and AKC
- AKC CAR offers a scanner that reads all other 125 kHz microchips
and will detect an ISO chip.
- Administers its own AKC Companion Animal Recovery (AKC
AVID - (American Veterinary
- AVID microchips and scanners are distributed in the US by companies
I.D. Systems to veterinarians and animal breeders.
- The Avid chip numbers can remain registered to the the veterinarian
and animal breeder it was sold to, or for a fee, the animal can be
enrolled in AVID's PETtrac® (1-800-336-2843) program under the owner's
- If you decide to microchip your pet with an AVID microchip, ask
your vet to use a universal or EURO Chip.
- Crystal Tag markets ISO Standard 11784 microchips under the Crystal
Tag product name.
- Crystal sells a universal reader which complies with ISO Standard
11785. With the ability to read ISO FDX-B and FDX-A/FECAVA, Trovan,
and encrypted 125 kHz chips
- Crystal Tag is associated with PetLink
International Pet Directory (https://www.petlink.net/)
- Pethealth Inc. markets microchips under the 24PetWatch
- Pethealth Inc. administers the 24PetWatch
- 24PetWatch has universal scanners and both ISO(Canada only ) and
non-ISO( US only ) microchips
Microchips Available in North America
|AKA - (old) Canadian Standard, FDX-A,
125 kHz, Annex A of ISO standard 11785, the Euro-chip, PetNet and
AKA - FDX-B, 134.2 KHz, the Allflex,
EIDAP and 24PetWatch chip.
|AKA - Avid
|Frequency - 125 kHz
||Frequency - 134.2 kHz
||Frequency -125 kHz
|10 alpha-numeric characters
||15 numeric-only characters
|USA & Canada
Current USA Issues -
I recently came across a web site which succinctly describes the
current confusion around the various and apparently conflicting ISO
Standards on the SageKeep
Kennels Microchips page. I have requested permission from the
author to reprint that succinct description on this web page.
Animal Veterinary Association - United
States Microchip Report- 2006
American Veterinary Identification Devices (AVID)
AVID Reader United States- Reads AVID & HomeAgain microchips.
Can’t detect ISO 134.2 kHz microchips
AVID Microchips United States- Encrypted 125 kHz microchips
AVID maintains its own database Pet Trac.
HomeAgain (Digital Angel) distributed by Schering Plough
HomeAgain Veterinary Reader United States- Reads HomeAgain microchips
& only detects AVID microchips. Cannot detect ISO microchips.
HomeAgain Shelter Reader United States- Reads HomeAgain microchips
& AVID microchips. Cannot detect ISO microchips.
HomeAgain Microchips United States- Unencrypted 125 kHz microchips
HomeAgain maintains its own database HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service
Banfield, a corporation of over 500 veterinary hospitals in the United
States, has recently begun to dual implant microchips in pets. They
are implanting a 125 kHz microchip AND a 132.4 kHz microchip into
companion pets since July of 2006. Reportedly, Banfield is seeing
about a 5% acceptance of the dual chipping procedure from their clients.
The 2 injections are located 1 inch apart per Banfield
ISO Standard 11784, 134.2 kHz microchips are again being implanted
in companion animals in the United States. As discussed above, the
vast majority of the microchip scanner infrastructure within the United
States companion animal community is unable to read frequencies other
than the 125 kHz microchips at this time.
Recent Developments in the United States
In April of 2006, Bayer Animal Health and Datamars began distributing
a new “universal” iMax Black Label microchip reader within
the United States The iMax Black Label reader will read 125 kHz encrypted
and unencrypted (AVID) microchips as well as most 134.2 kHz or ISO
microchips. To date, 8,000 scanners have been distributed. Bayer/Datamars
plan to distribute 20,000 free scanners to the animal shelter community.
An additional 10,000 scanners will be available for the veterinary
community for discount purchase with a microchip order. Datamars believes
they have eliminated potential litigation concerns regarding this
multi-read scanner within the United States by designing this scanner
with a non-patent infringement technology.
Since late in 2005, the Digital Angel Corporation has been distributing
the HomeAgain WorldScan microchip reader through Schering Plough.
The WorldScan reader reads all 125 kHz microchips including the AVID
encrypted microchip and 128 kHz (Trovan) microchips. This scanner
also detects all and reads some ISO or 134.2 kHz microchips.
States Microchip Report- 2006
Nov. 10, 2005 - RFID
Journal - U.S. Bill Includes RFID Provision for Pets
Legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct.
28 and the U.S. Senate on Nov. 3, and now awaiting President Bush's
signature, could make it easier for pet hospitals and shelters to
use radio frequency identification to reunite pet owners with their
lost animals. Million of pets in the United States have RFID tags
embedded under their skin, but the tags (which animal hospitals and
shelters call microchips) do not all operate at the same frequency,
nor are they readable by all RFID interrogators (readers) used by
vets and shelters.
is included in House
Report 109-255, accompanying the 2006
Agriculture Appropriations Bill (HR 2744). If President Bush signs
it, the legislation would require the Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the branch of the
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
charged with protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health and
safeguarding the well being of domestic animals - "to
develop the appropriate regulations that allow for universal reading
ability and best serve the interests of pet owners."
This would ensure that any lost pet could have its implanted tag read
and be linked to its owner through a national database.
On February 3, 2005 Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation
(Schering-Plough) announced the company will transition its HomeAgain®
Microchip database and lost pet recovery service from the American
Kennel Club (AKC) to internal resources. In effect there are now five
(5) separate databases in the US on which animals can be registered.
Unfortunately none of them share information with each other.
Synopsis - HomeAgain - AKC-CAR used to provide the database
services for HomeAgain. Schering-Plough, the owner of HomeAgain microchips
decided to operate it's own data base registry. HomeAgain (microchip)
can be purchased online, along with enrollment in the Recovery Service
for $68.50. It can also be purchased directly from veterinary clinics,
where the price may vary. When you purchase HomeAgain directly through
your veterinarian, enrollment in the database costs an additional
$17.50. Pets micro chipped with HomeAgain prior to February 3, 2005
remain enrolled in the new (HomeAgain)recovery database. HomeAgain's
statement - http://www.homeagainid.com/news/prs.cfm?action=article&prid=4
AKC-CAR's database allows you to register the owner's name, address,
and telephone number which are linked to the pet's unique identification
number, whether it is a microchip, tattoo, or AKC CAR issued collar
tag. Standard enrollment fee of $12.50. AKC CAR All pets enrolled
prior to February 3, 2005 are still enrolled with AKC CAR. (See AKC-CAR's
FAQ web page)
In May of 2005 concern arose about the introduction of an ISO
chip in North America. Due to various legal actions this microchip
is not available in the US but is available in Canada and has become
the Canadian standard microchip. (See Current Canadian
Part of that concern is caused by the use of a different frequency,
134.2 kHz. The current de facto standard in the US is an encrypted
Avid microchip which operates at 125 kHz. Many of the older scanners
could not read the 134.2 kHz ISO chips.
|125 kHz encrypted
|125 kHz US (Canada 134.2 kHz)
||Reads HomeAgain chip. Does not read ISO chip
||Reads AVID chip. Does not read ISO chip
||Slow to read HomeAgain chip. Does not read the
AVID chip but shows AVID detected.
Humane’s scanner test
Pethealth Services (USA) Inc., under the 24PetWatch
name, launched its microchip, its associated reader technology and
database registry service in Wisconsin on May 15,2003. 24PetWatch
attempted to supply the ISO chip in several states but was taken to
court by Avid.
Here are some links about the current microchip flap.
May 14, 2004 - from RFID News - Bainfield
The Pet Hospital Stops marketing ISO microchip.
May 14, 2004 - from RFID News - AVID
sues suppliers of ISO microchips for infringement of its US patents.
Please read the American Humane article - Microchip
technology -- Comparisons with the new chip on the block NOTE
the American Humane’s scanner test
In fact the ISO Chips has been available in the U.S. for many
years and are required by many other countries. In particular Europe.
- Today, three companies market microchips, readers, and unique database
systems in the United States.
- The most recent entry, Pethealth Services (USA) Inc., under the
24PetWatch name, launched its microchip, its associated
reader technology and database registry service in Wisconsin on May
15,2003. 24PetWatch attempted to supply the ISO chip in several states
but was taken to court by Avid. 24PetWatch now provides non-ISO microchips
in the US. 24PetWatch has universal scanners and both ISO(Canada only
) and non-ISO( US only ) microchips
- Not all of the scanners and microchips sold are fully compatible.
- The microchip must be scanned by a scanner that can read the identification
number in the microchip.
- Newer "universal" scanners are available but are not in
- The identification number then has to be matched up with information
in any of several databases maintained by different companies to identify
the pet owner or veterinarian who implanted the microchip.
Current Canadian Issues -
- December 1, 2004 the Canadian
Kennel Club (CKC) and the National Companion Animal Coalition
(NCAC) announced the adoption of a new Canadian RFID (Radio Frequency
Identification) Standard for companion animals. This will replace
the present Canadian Standard (FECAVA – 125 kHz non-encrypted
microchip) that was adopted in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing pet
recovery in Canada.
Beginning August 1, 2005, the Canadian Standard will reference only
the ISO technology for microchips and the NCAC will issue no new compliance
approvals for FECAVA chips. Reader requirements will include dual
compatibility to ensure readability of FECAVA chips implanted up to
August 1st and of ISO chips. See - News
@ CKC - New Canadian Standard for Microchips
- Doindogs Kennel
in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, has posted a couple articles about
the current issues with microchips in Canada. On the Avid's
Microchip article is an excerpt from the March 9, 2005 Avid's
Dog Breeder Newsletter whiich has a copy of Cathy Hutcheson, Sales
& Marketing Director, Avid Canada March 9, 2005 response to the
National Companion Animal Coalition' s efforts to move towards an
ISO standard in Canada. Another article, Don't
be Blocked by a Chip, has some examples of actual expieriences
with Avid encripted microchips and ISO microchips,
- Suzanne Lavictoire, Director, Programs / Directrice des programmes,
CANADIAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION / L'Association canadienne
Des médecins vétérinaires requested that I post
a letter from Ms. Cathy Hutcheson (AVID Canada) to the National Companion
Animal Coalition (NCAC), along with the NCAC’s response on my
Web site in order to provide reliable information on RFID technology
and on the adoption of ISO in Canada and the Canadian Standard for
microchip technology for companion animals.
- Letter by Ms. Cathy
Hutcheson (AVID Canada) March 9, 2005
from National Companion Animal Coalition March 30, 2005
Here are a few very important things you should know about
registering Microchips in Canada.
- If you buy AVID microchips from the CKC, they include
registration on the CKC's registry, Canada Chip. They do not include
registration on AVID's PETtrac Registry and 24 Hour Recovery Service,
PETtrac collar tags or implantation by a vet clinic.
- If you buy an AVID microchip through a vet clinic,
it includes PETtrac Registration and 24 Hour Recovery Service, a PETtrac
collar tag and the implantation fee in the price.
- If you buy directly from AVID Canada, PETtrac Registration
and 24 Hour Recovery Service as well as PETtrac collar tags are included
in the price, but do not include implantation by a vet clinic.
- What type of microchips should you use?
For dogs, sterile microchips in a single use disposable needle are
mandatory in Canada. No matter where you purchase your microchips
from, you should know what standard of microchip to purchase for each
dog depending on what country it is destined for. There are two standards
of microchips now available in Canada. FECAVA is the current Canadian
standard and ISO is the microchip of the future.
- Need an ISO microchip? The CKC and most Canadian
vet clinics still distribute FECAVA microchips, and will for some
time yet. If you require and ISO microchip for a dog destined for
overseas and cannot get them through your usual distributor, please
call AVID Canada direct as they supply both FECAVA and ISO
Kennel - Avid's
Microchip article ( you will have to scroll way down)
More answers to your Questions
How many kinds of microchips are available in North America
for Companion Pets?
Microchips are distributed by many different companies under several
different names, making it appear as though there are many different
kinds of microchips. Although there is a minimum of six manufacturers
producing companion animal microchips, there are only three kinds
(standards) used in North America; FECAVA, ISO and AVID Encrypted.
FECAVA and ISO are distributed in Canada. FECAVA and AVID Encrypted
are distributed in the USA. Here in Canada, FECAVA is also referred
to as the Canadian Standard, FDX-A, 125 kHz, Annex A of ISO standard
11785, the Euro-chip, the AVID FriendChip, PetNet and Anitech chip.
The ISO standard is also referred to as FDX-B, 134.2 kHz, the Allflex,
EIDAP and 24PetWatch chip. Microchip4Solutions distribute both FECAVA
and ISO microchips.
How many different kinds of microchip scanners are there?
As in the case of microchips, there are several manufacturers of scanners
and depending on each country’s adopted standards, scanners
may differ from country to country. In Canada, prior to the year 2000,
the majority of scanners were provided either by PetNet/Anitech or
AVID. Since 2000, additional scanners have been provided by Microchip4Solutions,
EIDAP and 24PetWatch. Common scanner names are Destron, Mini Trackers,
Pocket readers, Digital Angel, Identifiers, Allflex and Datamars readers.
What is the difference between FECAVA and ISO microchips?
When detected by a scanner, a FECAVA microchip appears as 10 alphanumeric
characters. Each manufacturer of FECAVA has chosen a unique computer
generated sequence of characters to prevent duplication and to help
identify the producers and suppliers. An ISO microchip appears as
15 numeric-only characters. Each manufacturer of ISO has been assigned
a three digit code, usually beginning with a number “9”.
A unique sequence of twelve numbers is to follow. A “0”
at the beginning of an ISO sequence picked up on a scanner is not
part of the ID number. Some countries have requested that manufacturers
produce ISO chips indicating a country code in the sequence. Technically,
current FECAVA standards operate on a 125 kHz frequency and ISO operates
on a 134.2 kHz frequency. Both standards are administered by the same
gauge needle, in the same injection site and read in the same manner.
Other International Issues -
What type of microchip to purchase for the country a dog will
Canada - FECAVA (Changing to ISO)
USA - FECAVA
UK/Europe - ISO
Australia/New Zealand - ISO
Most other overseas countries are switching from FECAVA to ISO.
Kennel - Avid's
Microchip article ( you will have to scroll almost to the bottom
of the page)
This technology is evolving and change is a certainty. Be sure
to read the fine print.
Contact the shelter(s) and animal rescue organizations in your area
and ask them if they routinely check strays for microchips. Ask your
vet and shelter if they have a universal scanner. If they do not, help
them get one.
Microchips are the most reliable method of identifying your pet.
But, do not assume that your pet does not need additional identification
just because he or she has a chip. There are many areas of the
country that do not check for chips. Even if your
pet has a microchip, please keep a collar and ID tag on him or her.
If your pet has a microchip keep your information in the providers
Most of the shelters in the states of Arkansas,
Tennessee, and Mississippi do not check for microchips.
Here in the Memphis, TN area, very few pets are microchiped and the
area shelters do not check for them. But that is about to change. As
of April 3, 2006 the Memphis Animal Shelter will be microchiping all
dogs and cats prior to adoption. In a January 24, 1999 article
in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the manager of the Memphis Animal
Shelter, Ken Childress, said the product isn't widely used enough in
the Memphis area to warrant his staff taking time to detect a chip.
If the microchip was substituted for a license, then maybe it would
be effective; otherwise it's useless, he said. "People here won't
buy a license let alone a chip," Childress said. "If every dog
owner followed the law and licensed their dog then there would be a
great local database that doesn't need a scanner. " He said that
90 percent of the animals that come into the shelter don't have any
identification. Many of them have collars, but no identification
tag. The shelter has a 100 percent return rate for animals that
wear a license or identification tag.
More and more shelters are checking for microchips More shelters
and animal rescue groups also require that animals being adopted be
implanted with a microchip.
Some of the other issues concerning the use of microchips are -
- The shelter(s) in your area may not have a scanner or if they do
it may be an older model. Check with the shelter(s) to see if
they check for microchips.
- There is no US Standard for micro-chipping Companion Animals.
- In July, 1996, the City of Los Angeles Selected InfoPet Identification
Systems and Trovan® Technology for Identifying Pets in City Shelters
but the system has yet to be implemented in Los Angeles due to continuing
RFID News article)
- There have been many lawsuits over patents owned by the various
chip developers and distributors. InfoPet, a former marketer and distributor
of Trovan® microchips and scanners, lost a patent lawsuit in 1998
and currently is not marketing microchips.
- There is considerable controversy in the US and other countries
with the ISO (International
Organization for Standardization), 1996 release of ISO11784, Radio
frequency identification of animals - Code structure and ISO11785,
Radio frequency identification of animals - Technical concept, standards
and the subsiquent release of ISO 11784 Annex A in 1996.
- ISO 11784 Annex A - When ISO standards 11784 and
11785 were developed, there was concern regarding protection of the
installed base of microchips, often referred to as backward compatibility.
ISO 11785 Annex A was developed to address this issue during the transition
period between prior and ISO standard technology and defined the need
for readers to read three technologies (Destron, Datamars, and Trovan)
for a period of 2 years. AVID was not included in Annex A because
they elected not to provide the encryption code with which to read
their encrypted microchips. However, this 2-year period has long since
passed and this was clearly defined in ISO 11785, Section 2 (Conformance),
wherein it states "...transponders meeting the requirements of
Annex A may be applied for a transition period of 2 years from the
date of the first edition of this international standard." The
date of the first edition was 1996, and as this time frame was completed
in 1998, Annex A is no longer applicable, hence, Annex A microchips
are not true ISO standard microchips. Source - World
Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Microchip FAQs
For more information see -
- In many other countries, legislation is emerging, especially for
companion animals adopting ISO transponders. Here is a list
of national developments regarding the ISO 11784/11785 standards:
- In France: a field trial on chipping dogs and cats with ISO transponders
is being carried out.
- In the UK: a database has been built for companion animals (173,000
being chipped ); legislation of the use of transponders according
the ISO standard is under preparation and will become effective
by 2001; the National Cattle Database is making progress, more than
12,000 animals have already been recorded.
- In The Netherlands: By 2000 a law will become effective for the
identification/registration of companion animals by tattooing or
by using ISO compatible transponders.
- In Australia/New Zealand, the ISO standard is expected to be accepted
by their Joint Committee.
- Originality three companies manufactured microchips and scanners
for companion animals in the United States. Each one using differing
marketed and distributed by InfoPET Systems (no longer in business),
marketed and distributed by Schering-Plough
Animal Health, and AVID
(American Veterinary Identification Devices) marketed and distributed
by participating veterinarians. Today, two companies, Avid and Schering-Plough
market microchips in the United States.
- In September 2000, Destron
Fearing merged with Digital Angel.net Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary
of Applied Digital Solutions, and the combined companies do business
under the Digital Angel.net Inc. name.
- The AKC formed an alliance with Schering-Plough Animal Health and
recommends the HomeAgain™ system. AKC
Companion Animal Recovery
- The new scanners made by each company have been significantly improved
and generally recognize the presence of a microchip made by a different
- Talk to your vet about possible migration of the microchip.
- Most manufacturers are now making Universal Scanners and which
can detect the presence and often read tags made by other manufacturers.
- For more information see - Dog
Owner's Guide: Microchips
These issues hinder the adoption of regulations requiring microchips
by local governments, reduce the reliability of the technology, confuse
the public, and increase the cost. Using the ISO microchip standard
in the US will allow local, county, and state governments to adopt microchiping
of strays with less threat of legal consequences and reduce the associated
What can you do?
Help promote a US Standard for Companion Animal Microchiping.
Most of the rest of the world has adopted the ISO standards for microchips.
The US is years behind most other developed countries in this effort.
Any solution must take into account the older installed base
of microchips. The some of newer universal scanners can detect but not
read all three varieties of microchips.
Not a very pretty picture, but in time, these issues will be resolved.
If your area has scanners and checks for microchips, then use the microchip.
It is the most reliable method of identifying your pet.
Even if your area does routinely check for microchips, please keep
a collar or harness with an ID tag on your pet with your current
phone number. The first person to find your pet will not have a microchip
scanner but probably will have a cell phone.
Overview | News|
Uses | Standards|
Types of Tags | Issues|
System Criteria | EPC
| Future | Links