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Hi,

I work as a Vet Tech and wanted to get opinions on something I've been faced with lately. OK, you have a client come in with a pet (dog usually) that they found and want scanned for a microchip. You scan it and "hooray" it has one. Then you go to the AAHA website and look up the chip number and get a phone number for the chips manufacturer. Then you call the manufacturer and (if you are lucky) get an owners name and phone number. Who should contact the owner?

I've had microchip companies tell me that I CANNOT give out owners information and then I try the phone numbers I've been given and leave a message (if they aren't disconnected.) I've also had chip companies that wanted the name and phone number of the client who found the pet (I don't give out clients info!) Should vet offices be a go-between? If you kept a tag on your dog the person who found it would have access to the same information so what is the difference? What if I give the person who found the pet the information and they decide to keep the pet and never call the registered owner?

What I've been doing is if the company tells me NOT to give out the owners information I make the call and go from there. If the company doesn't say anything I give the information to the person who found the pet and what they do with the information is their business.

What do you think? What are the ethics about giving out information and to whom? I've looked at the websites for the microchips and they don't have any info on this.

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We always call the owners. I've seen cases of people getting a dog scanned, keeping the dog, calling the microchip company and claiming they adopted the dog (giving all the info including chip number and name of the previous owner as proof).

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If the company doesn't say anything I give the information to the person who found the pet and what they do with the information is their business.

That is kind of scary and sad to hear. If I scanned for a microchip I would absolutely call the owners and would expect my vet to as well (and they do I was told). Tags can and do fall off (which is why I use the riveted on tags) but most people don't. A microchip is a great back up but they have many faults. I would be quite sad to hear someone found my pet and were nice enough to have it scanned but then no one bothered to call me, especially a 'pet professional' such as a vet's office.

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What I've been doing is if the company tells me NOT to give out the owners information I make the call and go from there. If the company doesn't say anything I give the information to the person who found the pet and what they do with the information is their business.

What do you think? What are the ethics about giving out information and to whom? I've looked at the websites for the microchips and they don't have any info on this.

 

I'd really hope that the vet's office would make an effort to contact the owner instead of just leaving it up to the person who brought the dog in.

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I don't know anything about the ethics of all this, but if I lost one of my dogs, I would hope that WHOEVER scanned and found my microchip would contact me ASAP. And to be honest, if my dog ends up in a vet hospital in any way, whether found injured or found lost and simply brought in to be scanned, I'm COUNTING on the vet to contact me.

I guess perhaps I'm naive? But I even have cards on my travel crates directing that, in the event of an accident, my dogs will be taken to the nearest vet hospital for housing and/or treatment. I think of vets as another layer of security for my dogs if lost. It's scary to think it might be otherwise. Especially in a society where too many people are prone to thinking lost dogs must belong to careless or heartless owners. :(

~ Gloria

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I guess I've always thought of a microchip as an invisible, but permanent, tag, not theft prevention. I've thought that if the person who found the pet brought the pet in to be scanned it was to find the owner. To be honest, unfortunately, the search usually ends when I call the place who sold the microchip and find out that it is a feed store and the owner never registered their information and the feed store doesn't keep track of who buys the microchips. Twice, I've traced it back to Humane Leagues who didn't keep track of microchip numbers either. They chip the pet, give the owner the information and tell them to register with the company, since they didn't, the microchip is useless.

I wonder how many of the microchip companies ask questions when a new owner calls to change information on a pet? I thought they'd try to contact the previous owner before changing the information, but maybe that varies from chip to chip?

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I wonder how many of the microchip companies ask questions when a new owner calls to change information on a pet? I thought they'd try to contact the previous owner before changing the information, but maybe that varies from chip to chip?

 

I'll be getting Wink chipped soon and was checking a few of the companies to compare things like registration (i.e. whether it's included in the cost of the chip, annual fees, etc.). Now you've given me something else to think about.

 

There should certainly be some process in place to make sure people can't just find or steal a pet and change the chip info.

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.....To be honest, unfortunately, the search usually ends when I call the place who sold the microchip and find out that it is a feed store and the owner never registered their information and the feed store doesn't keep track of who buys the microchips. Twice, I've traced it back to Humane Leagues who didn't keep track of microchip numbers either. They chip the pet, give the owner the information and tell them to register with the company, since they didn't, the microchip is useless.

 

 

THIS is one of my pet peeves! :angry: Microchips are not magic - we have to ADD the information and REGISTER the darned chip before they can be effective! I can't count the times I've read about dogs being found, scanned to reveal a chip, and yet the information it should carry doesn't exist or is 3 years out of date. :unsure:

 

 

I wonder how many of the microchip companies ask questions when a new owner calls to change information on a pet? I thought they'd try to contact the previous owner before changing the information, but maybe that varies from chip to chip?

 

When I got my pup at 12 weeks old, she was already micro-chipped but the breeder sent along the microchip number and info, and I went online to change the address to mine. No phone call involved. So I guess it may vary? But without having the actual microchip number, a person can't re-register the chip and I don't know how many locating vets would give the chip number along with the pet owner's contact info.

 

~ Gloria

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Hmm, Kenzi's chip number is ON her 24hr Pet Watch tag. She still wear the tag (note, slightly flexible plastic tags are the best ever - 6 years on an active dog and still fine) and I wrote my phone number on the blank side with a Sharpie.

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When I got my pup at 12 weeks old, she was already micro-chipped but the breeder sent along the microchip number and info, and I went online to change the address to mine. No phone call involved. So I guess it may vary? But without having the actual microchip number, a person can't re-register the chip and I don't know how many locating vets would give the chip number along with the pet owner's contact info.

 

~ Gloria

 

When we adopted Gabe his chip was registered to the rescue, and I figured it was only so easy to change because it was set up by them that they had adopted him out and the info had been changed. In fact, I think they may have put my name and phone number in to the chip registry when the adoption was finalized, and then I went in and added more details (address, husband's info, etc.). While I was typing this I went onto 24 hour PetWatch's site to see how they would handle a change of ownership:

https://www.24petwatch.com/US/Lost_pet/Change_Ownership.aspx

 

I don't think they'd let someone just change the info with the microchip number. Unsure about other companies.

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I once found a dog that was microchipped. The vet read the chip, contacted the database who in turn contacted the owner, and the owner contacted me. I wasn't given the owner's contact or any other information. It makes sense to me.

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All of my pets except one are using 24-hour pet watch chips. They seem to be difficult to change owners. When I moved out grandma kept my toy poodle who I had chipped, because she was in a better place to take care of a dog with epilepsy. She called to change the information and they sent her paperwork and made her get me to fill it out and send it in allowing her to put the dog in her name. It asked for information my grandma didn't have even though she had the original paperwork.

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I once called a vet and made sure they knew how very angry I was. One of my pets was stolen then take in to a vet for vaccines. I had been able to obtain records after getting the pet back. Doctor's notes said pet was found as a stray. NO effort was ever made to scan it. I got the pet back by putting posters up. Woman called me to say she though she saw my pet at her neighbor's house. I knocked on the door, asked if they had a new pet. They denied it. Pet heard my voice and came running. Peopled tried to claim they had no idea she had been missing. 1) She always wore a collar. They must have taken it off. 2) I had a put a poster in their mailbox just a week previously!

 

Anyway, the moral of the story is that not everyone scans chips or handles it responsibly.

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I wouldn't care who called me so long as my dog came back to me. Give out my phone number, I don't care. I'd just want her back!

 

Our vet is beyond awesome (for many reasons). When we gave them an updated billing address for charging for visits, they reminded us about 5x to update the microchip's website as well and gave us another business card to put their office number as the third contact (we have my husband's as the primary phone, then mine, and now the vet's as well). They keep detailed records of each pet and they have her microchip number and brand in the computer so if anyone ever calls them, they'll know exactly which dog she is and since they have a lot of personal information on us, they'll be able to hunt us down.

 

The APL where we got her also keeps updated records of her microchip number (she has/had two because the first either fell out or stopped responding, so we got her a second one). She also wears an additional tag on her collar that says "I'm microchipped" on both sides and her tags are zip tied to the D-ring because she pulls apart any key rings we put on.

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These stories make me think that, as cumbersome and frustrating it can be to change one's contact info, it is very important to keep the paper trail up to date. (I am pointing the finger at myself since I have my older dog's info in need of updating.)

 

Also, I think it would be a good idea if all vets scan ANY new animals that a client brings in. When I got my last pup, who was already microchipped, they scanned him to make sure that the chip # matched the paperwork. They also did the same thing when I brought in a foster dog to be spayed. Said foster had been spayed and microchipped at a low-cost clinic, then I had to bring her in to my own vet (who also works with the rescue routinely) for a UTI and 4DX test. I now appreciate that they are double-checking everything.

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I would also appreciate a vet scanning any new pet in their practice and will speak to the practice I recently switched to about this. They didn't scan my dogs when they were first seen. In fact, I've never had a dog scanned at any of the practices I've gone to, and now that's really bothering me.

 

My 2 adult dogs have different brand microchips, Avid and 24PetWatch. Both have the microchip numbers on the tags, along with toll free numbers for people to call. This makes sense in case a private individual finds a pet and can then call the chip company directly to locate the owner without having to take it to a vet or ACO first. This would often speed up the process of finding the owner, which I appreciate.

 

But there could be other ways for the chip companies to screen people who want to change their registration information, like a password or a PIN number.

 

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm going to be calling both companies to see how this is handled and also talking to the vet about it when I go in next.

 

This is exactly the kind of thing that grass root consumer effort can make improvements happen. I hope everyone here will be doing the same thing.

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I was greatful my new vet scans every new pet they see. I brought in their microchip paperwork when I switched vets and was glad they asked if they could see it after scanning! This is actually how I found out the shelter forgot to chip one of my cats even though they gave me the paperwork saying he was.

 

The vet did tell me some people get offended when asked if they have the paperwork. Personally I'd just be happy they cared.

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Now I'm peeved. I've never had a vet ask to scan my dog, even when I switched vets last year. I had never even given thought to it, but it would be ridiculously easy to steal a dog and never have a vet question it. And I'd bet my eye teeth that no vet would even question me if the name/number on the chip didn't match mine. "Yeah, that was the old owners. They rehomed the dog and I never changed the name."

 

I, personally, ask to have my dog scanned every time I go in. I don't know, I just want confirmation that the chip hadn't migrated. They're always happy to do it, but they have to go get the scanner from in back.

 

I had Keeper chipped at the local shelter, and they entered my information right in front of me. It was nice to know my dog was registered as soon as I got the chip, they needed at least two addresses and phone numbers to contact. It seems like that is, by far, the best way to ensure that chipped animals don't go forgotten when it comes to registering them.

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I've found loose dogs twice. The first one I took to the vet for a scan, his chip was registered to the SPCA and hadn't been changed yet, so they gave the receptionist the adopter's info. She gave that to me and I contacted the owner and made arrangements to meet him to give the dog back.

 

The second one only had a rabies tag, but the county gave me the owner's name, address, and phone number. Phone number wasn't good anymore, so I walked the dog home. (the teenager who answered the door burst into tears when she saw him, I can relate)

 

I guess in both cases, nobody cared about anyone else's privacy, but the dogs got back home. *shrugs*

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Apparently the dog warden and all community-facing representatives of the county shelter all carry the wands that read multiple brands of microchips now!

 

FYI - if you ever find a lost dog, a simple stop at the police station can get you the contact info and the owner updates as much or as little information as they want shared.

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^^ I don't mean to be dismissive, but the problem is that not everyone knows that, even people who have microchipped pets. Not everyone has pets and those people might not even be aware of microchips or only vaguely aware of them. Some people might not be willing or able to take a pet they found to a vet or ACO.

 

It's good for everyone to be aware of this and for those of us who do know about it to spread the word, but by itself it's just not enough.

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FYI - if you ever find a lost dog, a simple stop at the police station can get you the contact info and the owner updates as much or as little information as they want shared.

 

Not where I live!

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Supposedly, the rescue we adopted Livi from will always keep their information associated with her chip. In addition to mine, of course. The theory is that way if we're traveling or something and she gets away from the dog sitter and someone finds her and tries to call, the backup info is the rescue coordinator who has access to volunteers all across the state and can probably find someone local to pick up the dog. They left it to me to add my information to the chip, but it was a condition of the adoption contract that I do it within something like 24 hours.

 

Edit: This conversation inspired me to go check her microchip info. While I was at it I updated some details (current weight, etc.). I just got an e-mail saying that her information had been updated and if it wasn't authorized I should call them. Good to know!

Edited by TxMom
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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a website microchip lookup tool anyone can use to look up the registry of any microchip number, which you can then contact to find out the owner's information.

 

https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/about_aaha/microchip_lookup_tool/default.aspx

 

Obviously, you might need a scanner to find out the number, but many pets wear a collar tag with the chip number displayed.

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