Animalcare Calls on DEFRA to Improve Microchipping Database Regulation Following Feature on Rip Off Britain

Animalcare Ltd has expressed concern at comments made during a feature on microchipping on BBC’s Rip Off Britain, aired on 20 January 2020.  The company, owner of identichip® and identibase®, the UK’s original pet microchipping service, believes that the feature could unnecessarily undermine public confidence in microchipping and pet reunification.  It says that, together with other industry representatives, it has been calling on DEFRA to improve the regulation of pet databases and additionally urging veterinary professionals to scan pets routinely.  These changes would reduce the recognised problem of stolen dogs unknowingly being passed onto new keepers and should increase the number of owners being reunited with their missing pets.

In particular, Animalcare would like to address the following points made in the programme:

  • That logging pets’ details on ‘multiple databases’ makes it difficult to find out if a pet has been reported found because the databases ‘don’t speak to each other’

Animalcare and identibase® have processes in place to help prevent pets from being registered on multiple databases but this is an industry-wide issue that needs a solution. It says that action is required from DEFRA as the current regulatory framework requires no formal approval process to become a compliant database and that no checks are then made to ensure that database companies adhere to the regulations.

  • It is impossible to find out who searched for a particular pet’s microchip using a chip checker tool

Animalcare says that the provision of a chip checker tool is required by DEFRA and can be used by anyone to find out which database a microchip is held on. The tool does not supply keeper details but, once the relevant database is identified, authorized and verified individuals, such as a veterinary professionals, dog wardens or animal charity representatives, can obtain pet keeper details by contacting the database directly.

During the programme, it was wrongly implied that because the microchip of a missing dog had been ‘searched for’, this could lead to the dog being found.  If a microchip is ‘searched for’ it does not necessarily mean that the microchip has been scanned.

Animalcare recommends the routine scanning of pets because:

  • It confirms that the microchip is working
  • It helps identify who is the registered keeper and to check if their details are up to date
  • It helps to avoid multiple microchipping.

Commenting, Mr James Beaumont, Brand Manager at Animalcare, said: “Research confirms that a missing microchipped pet is much more likely to be reunited with its owner than an animal which has not been microchipped. For this reason, it is important to remind pet owners why it is important and, in the case of dogs, compulsory. 

“Our identichip database has been running since 1989 and has registered more than five million animals.  While there are undoubtedly ways in which the current system could be improved, we continue to develop the services we offer to pet keepers and have reunited many thousands of lost pets with their keepers over the years. 

“We were sorry to hear the stories of the keepers in the programme who have not yet found their pets and are working to ensure that microchipping becomes even more effective in the future. We believe that a robust regulation and policing of databases by DEFRA and the routine scanning of animals by veterinary practices are the most effective ways to bring this about.”

Animalcare specialises in the provision of animal health products to the veterinary sector.  Its wide product range spans identichip® microchips and pharmaceuticals through to pet welfare products and practice equipment.