Losing track of your cat or dog is any pet owner’s nightmare. In the terrifying instances when our four-legged friends escape our homes, it’s often challenging to reunite with them. For many people, a pet collar is the one thing standing between a missing pet and returning them home. Thanks to modern technology, this does not have to be the case anymore.
Many veterinarians and pounds recommend that people microchip their animals. The simple procedure makes it easier than ever for people to identify lost animals and get them home. Do these pet microchips compromise your privacy?
What Are Pet Microchips?
Pet microchips, sometimes referred to as “tracking chips,” are integrated circuits used to secure pets if they get separated from their owners. The device is tiny, about the size of a grain of rice, and implanted directly into a pet’s skin (usually around their scruff) by a vet or other trained professional.
These microchips contain essential information about your pet that would help reunite them in case of an emergency. Every microchip is assigned a unique ID number you can register for identifying the pet as yours. Users may register the number with standard information such as vaccine schedules, pet descriptions, or contact details of the vet or the owner. While they technically don’t last forever, pet microchips last about 25 years, which is longer than a lifetime for most dogs or pets.
Do Pet Microchips Pose Privacy Concerns?
“Microchipping” sometimes has a negative connotation. Often associated with government mind-control propaganda, many people wonder if these pet microchips have security concerns. There are a few myths worth exploring to better understand pet microchips and why they are a safe way to secure your animals.
While there are some GPS pet devices you may consider, these are the same as a pet microchip. A pet microchip does not have any battery or other power source and can not continuously transmit information. You can think of them as kind of like a flash drive. Although you can store data on these powerless devices, you need to have the proper tools to read a document off of it.
A chipped pet is not running around and spreading information about themselves to whoever wants it. In fact, you need a specialized radio frequency scanner, something you’d only find at vets, animal shelters, and airports. Chances are, nobody is going to maliciously track down your pets to steal your sensitive information.
Even if someone did manage to scan your pet, they couldn’t get much information off the microchip anyway. The only information stored on a pet microchip is the unique serial number. For this serial number to mean anything at all, someone must register the number with along with your personal data for cross-referencing.
You choose what information to store in these databases. If you are concerned about protecting your contact details, providing your vet’s phone number is crucial, so they have someone to contact. Some registries even let you provide your email address. What’s nice about this system is that it means you can update the information if you ever move or change numbers.
Since microchips do not connect to the internet in any way, shape, or form, there is no way for you (or anyone else) to “hack in” and change information on the chip implanted in your pet without you knowing. Designers make these chips with the intention of lasting a lifetime, so changing information directly on the chip is difficult and impractical.
Have concerns over someone hacking these databases? Don’t worry unduly. This is highly unlikely as critical data like social security numbers and payment information is not stored. In that case, you can check in every once in a while to make sure it is accurate.
Do Pet Microchips Prevent My Pet From Being Lost?
Pet microchips are a great way to help shelters or other animal professionals identify your pet and get in touch with you. While they certainly add a modern twist on pet IDs, they are not a fool-proof way of permanently securing your pet. There are some vital things you should keep in mind when taking pet safety measures.
Not All Scanners Are Universal
Microchips transmit information using radio frequencies (this does not cause any health concerns to your pets). Different microchips operate on a different frequency – even within the same brand.
Some scanners do not pick up specific frequencies (although universal scanners identify all of them; some organizations fail to realize they aren’t using universal scanners). It’s a good idea to find chips that fit the “international standard” (134.2) just in case.
You Need to Register Microchips
Unless you register your data, those chips are entirely useless. The only information scanners detect is the unique number, which offers no information whatsoever. Don’t just give the microchip number to your vet; register it online.
You can even register the number at several different platforms to cover your grounds.
Don’t Rely on Microchips Alone
Microchips are a fantastic invention, but this does not mean you should rely on them alone to keep a pet safe. There are many different steps all pet owners should take to keep pets safe. Besides taking security measures to escape your pet from running away (e.g., fences, leashes, closed doors, and training your pets), sticking to tradition is also a good idea.
Never underestimate the power of a collar and tag, as this is still the first thing people look for when they encounter a potentially lost animal.
Should I Get a Pet Microchip?
Getting a pet microchip is a great way to add extra peace of mind to your pet’s safety. Even perfect owners and well-behaved animals sometimes escape, and it’s a wise idea to prepare for this scary event.
Pet microchipping is a safe and affordable technique that acts as a permanent identification system. In combination with other security measures, microchipping helps increase the chances of being reunited with a lost pet without compromising privacy.
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