Personalized ID tags are likely to be the fastest way to return a pet home, as they can be read by anyone who finds the animal. However, collars can come off, leaving the pet without any identification. Implanted microchips can serve as an important security measure to help ensure that a pet is returned home, even if a collar and tag are lost. Reuniting pets with their guardians though microchips requires that pet guardians keep their address and contact information up to date with the microchip registry. The International Standards Organization (ISO) has issued specifications for a standardized microchip for animal identification. While most of the world has accepted these standards, the United States has not. The primary problem is a competitive, technological one involving the compatibility of the microchips and the readers used by shelters and veterinary clinics.
The ASPCA supports microchip identification paired with a collar and personalized ID tag for companion animals. The ASPCA also supports the development of a coordinated effort to transition the United States to an ISO-compliant system. There will be some obstacles to overcome during the transition period if we are to ensure that no animals already implanted with non-ISO microchips are “orphaned.” A coordinated effort that includes manufacturers and distributors of microchips, animal shelters, the veterinary community and the pet trades can overcome these difficulties. In those areas where a coordinated system has been actively supported by animal shelters and the veterinary community, pets, pet guardians and the shelters themselves have benefited.