September 22, 2009
New microchip search tool debuts
Two search engines now available, but neither is complete
By: Edie Lau
For The VIN News Service
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) on Monday launched a long
anticipated Web-based search engine for pet microchip identification
The search tool has access to four databases with which
pet owners in the United States may register their pets’ microchip
identification numbers. However, companies that control three other
databases are not currently participating.
AAHA spokesman Jason
Merrihew said the organization is still in discussions with those
companies and opted to make the tool available now rather than wait
for full participation.
“We decided that the participating
companies that we have now represent a pretty big portion of microchip
companies in the United States,” Merrihew said. He was unable to say
exactly what proportion of microchipped pets are covered by the
Registries taking part in the new
search engine, www.petmicrochiplookup.org, are AKC CAR, HomeAgain,
Petlink by Datamars and ResQ by Bayer.
The databases not covered by the search tool are AVID, Banfield and 24PetWatch.
search engine is the second such tool to tackle the long-standing
problem of matching pet microchip identification numbers to their
respective registries. Due to the competitive nature of the business,
no central database for registry information exists. That means that a
pet with a microchip might fail to be reunited with its owner if the
person who finds the pet cannot determine with which database the pet is
registered. It is the registry that holds information about the pet’s
owner, not the chip itself.
In August, a private company in
California’s Silicon Valley, Chloe Standard, unveiled an Internet
search engine at www.checkthechip.com to simplify the process of
finding a chipped pet’s registry.
That search engine doesn’t
access any registry’s database. Rather, it tells the user which company
manufactured the chip. The manufacturer may also be the same company to
which a chip is registered. If it is not, the user must make more calls
to track down the pet owner.
Olivia Sadlowski, founder and CEO
of Chloe Standard, has said that the company would like eventually to
incorporate registry databases into its search engine. That would
require the cooperation and participation of the database companies.
of AAHA said his organization worked for nearly a year on collaborating
with the companies and emphasized the unprecedented nature of the
collaboration. “We feel it’s a major step forward,” he said.
said AAHA did not have to pay for access to the databases, nor are the
companies paying AAHA. “We felt that this is something that is needed, and we would be serving the best interests of the veterinary community,
as well as the pets, if we had this available,” he said.
Sadlowski said a search engine that accesses some database registries
but not all could potentially be confusing to users, especially if the
developers do not make the tool’s limitations clear. The Web site lists
the participating companies but does not explicitly state that some
registries are not participating.
“I think the only value-add
this (search tool) has is that they managed to make connections (with
the registries), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ready to
be used,” Sadlowski said. “This is why we didn’t want to work with the
databases at the beginning. We wanted to have a broader default.”
called the registry information the “cherry on the sundae. We built the
sundae. The collaboration is the cherry. You can’t start with the
cherry, which is what they’re doing.”
In cases where a microchip
number is not contained in a participating registry, the AAHA search
tool identifies the probable manufacturer and gives contact information
for the manufacturer.
Merrihew acknowledged that AAHA’s project,
like Chloe Standard’s, is less than complete. “We know this tool is a
work in progress,” he said.
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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