Microchip Monday: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool

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If you ever find a lost pet, hopefully he’ll have an ID tag with the owner’s phone number on it, as this is usually the quickest way to return a pet back to his family. However, if Fido doesn’t have external ID, you’ll need to take him to a local vet’s office to get him scanned with a universal scanner to see if he has a microchip implanted under his skin.

If he has a microchip, the scanner will reveal a 9, 10, or 15 digit microchip number.  Contrary to popular belief, the scanner doesn’t provide owner contact information. It doesn’t even identify the registry. The vet’s office looks at the microchip number, and if they can guess who the microchip manufacturer is, they may give you that company’s phone number as well.

So where do you start looking for owner information? It can be a long and confusing process, especially because there is no singular national database in the United States, which means you can register any brand of microchip with any registry, and you can register the same microchip number in multiple registries. This means that even if the vet guesses the microchip brand correctly, that information may not even help you find the owner. Confused yet?

This is where the Pet Microchip Lookup Tool comes in handy. An online tool maintained by the American Animal Hospital Association, it should be the very first website you check when you’re attempting to find owner information for a found pet.

Here are 5 things every animal lover should know about AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool:

1. It’s a Search Engine, Not a Registry

It’s not a registry or database, and it doesn’t store pet owners’ contact information. Instead, it is a lookup tool, sort of like Google for microchip registrations. It “peeks” into (most) major microchip registries (see number 4 on the list below) and tells you within a few seconds if/where the microchip number is registered.

2. It Shows the Registry’s Info, Not the Pet Owner’s

If the chip is registered with a specific company, the tool will provide the company’s website and phone number, as well as the date the chip was last updated. For example, see the image below for what it looks like when you search for “Waldo’s” microchip number, which is registered in most of the common registries in the U.S., including the Found Animals Registry. As you can see, the tool does not show any pet owner contact information – not even the owner’s name. It just shows the registry’s info. This type of message will show up for any “participating registries” (AAHA’s term for the registries it is able to search). However, just because a chip is registered with a company, you shouldn’t assume that the chip was manufactured by the same company. Which leads to point number 3…

3. It Searches for Registrations First, Then Possible Manufacturers

If the chip isn’t registered in any participating registries, it will point you in the direction of the possible manufacturer of the microchip.  This way, you can contact the manufacturer to see which implanter they may have sold the chip to. Unfortunately, this information will only show for non-registered chips. If a chip is registered, it will only show the information seen in point number 2 above. So, if the manufacturer’s registry is not also a participating registry in AAHA, you won’t see that company listed when the chip is registered somewhere else.

For all you curious cats out there, here’s a chart of popular microchip manufacturers and their chip number formats. Remember: Rather than basing your guess off of a chart, you can get 100% accuracy with AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool to find a registration for a found pet!

4. Some Registries Do Not Participate

Even though it’s completely free, not every registry participates in the tool. This is not because of cost or inconvenience – those companies are actively choosing not to be part of the lookup. Click here for a list of participating companies. Currently, the two common companies that do not participate are: AVID and 24PetWatch. If you have pets registered in either of these databases, we encourage you to contact them and ask them to participate in AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool in the interest of increasing pet reunifications.

5. Some Animal Professionals Don’t Use It

Not every shelter knows about or uses the tool when they have a found pet. This can lead to some dangerous confusion — for example, if your pet’s microchip is a HomeAgain chip, but it is registered with AKC Reunite, the shelter may call HomeAgain directly without looking it up on AAHA’s tool, and could miss the AKC registration altogether. Some pet owners choose to update their pet’s information with the original manufacturer’s database as an added safety net to prevent this type of confusion. As long as all registrations are kept up-to-date, there is no harm in registering your pet’s microchip in multiple registries. Hopefully soon, every shelter and vet in the country will use petmicrochiplookup.org consistenly, so no pet will be stuck in a shelter or clinic because someone couldn’t find its registration.

We hope this cleared up some confusion around the much-asked question of how to find owner information for a found pet, as well as provided some insight into AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. Now, it’s your turn to enlighten an animal-loving friend or spread the word to your local shelters, vets, and rescue groups!

Got any other microchip-related questions? Leave them in the comments section below.

12 Responses

  1. Joyce says:

    Ive had my dog for 7years but I don’t know his chip number. The person who I got him of has moved and I have lost touch with them what can I do

  2. Mary says:

    Hi. I registered my cat’s microchip years ago but need to provide the number to my pet sitter. How can I find that information? I have no idea what service I used.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Can someone please share with me all of the places I can register my dogs microchip?

  4. Donna says:

    I just tried looking up my dog’s microchip number in the pet microchip look-up site. His microchip is from HomeAgain. The vet covered the first year of registration with HomeAgain. But, I was not able to renew the registration with HomeAgain; but, according to them his chip number would still be in their database. My dog’s microchip is also registered on Found Animals.

    Under the section that tells where the microchip is registered, it says: No information found in participating databases. Please see below for possible manufacturers.

    So, if my dog was lost and the vet or whoever got this same info, would he/she have to go down the entire list of manufacturers to find which one made the chip?

    • Annie M says:

      Hi Donna, If your microchip is registered in the FA registry it should come up on the AAHA database, otherwise yes. They would have to check several registries if they couldn’t deduce based on the frequency and digit length, who had made the chip.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Annie, I decided to check again in the pet microchip look-up site for my dog’s microchip number. Last time I checked it back in August, I did not get any results. But, today, when I checked, both Found Animals and HomeAgain turned up in the results. Maybe there was a glitch in the system last time.

    • Nance Glantz says:

      Go to home again and renew chip. Call them if you have trouble. They have great customer service.

  5. patricia says:

    What about when someonesteals ur pet. What good is the microchip then?

    • Annie M says:

      Hi Patricia, A microchip is designed to be permanent identification, it can work really well getting lost pets home when other identification (visible, external identification) fails. Pet theft is a whole separate issue, microchips will not prevent your pet from getting stolen but it may help you recover them if you have the microchip registered and someone scans and retrieves the information. Until they make an internal GPS (which is not logical, because it would be too large to implant under the skin) we have to make the most of what we have available. Thanks!

    • Cindee says:

      My girlfriend’s microchipped puppy was stolen from her backyard in 2007…in 2013, she received a call from the pound stating they had her dog! 6 years later, her dog was returned to her because of that trusty microchip! Amazing! I am a firm believer in the power of microchipping!