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Our Story

Our 
Story

Big Sweet Chloe.jpg

Meet Chloe

In 2008, I adopted Chloe from a San Francisco Bay Area shelter. When I held her, I knew I would adopted her. She was my first dog.

We joined a Pug Meetup Group to socialize with other pugs. On the Pug group web forum, a post announced that someone found a lost dog and asked, "What should I do?". Suggestions flooded in quickly, including post on Facebook, hang posters in the neighborhood and check the microchip. She asked, "How do you check a microchip?" and was told that pet microchip scanners were found at a vet's office or an animal shelter. (It was 5:30p and Silicon Valley traffic was brutal. It would have taken an hour to reach the nearest shelter and they would have been closed by then.) 

If Good Samaritans like her want to help pets, why is it so hard to find a microchip scanner? How many types of microchips are there? Why can't some scanners read some microchips? Why is this all so complicated.

I looked at Chloe who was peacefully snoring on the couch. I wondered what would happen if she was lost. How would someone help her home? I scooped up the plump, sleepy pug and said, "I'm going to do something about this microchip problem".

Olivia White

Founder and CEO

Check the Chip, Inc.

Our Dream

Our Dream
is to dramatically improve the microchip system

Microchips are amazing but they were designed mainly for vets and shelters, leaving pet owners in the dark about how the tech works. Most people who find a lost pet will try and help the pet back home. They should be able to use the same tech as shelters do - free and easy.

 

Our mission is to deliver the tech that pet owners and communities need to keep pets safe.

 

How a perfect technology became complicated

Only about half of all microchips are actually registered to the pet owner which means that out of 56 million pets in the U.S. about 27 million have a microchip implanted which isn't protecting the pet (AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook 2017-2018 Edition).

After talking to hundreds of pet owners and doing our own research, it was clear that pet owners cared deeply for their pets. Yet rarely could they confidently say the microchip worked nor could they say which microchip database their pet was registered with. It didn't make any sense. This curiosity inspired years of research about pets, the pet owners journey, microchips and microchip systems. Here is what I've learned, condensed into the 5 sections below. 

1) Does the chip work? Hmm... I don't know

We wanted to know why so many pet owners didn't know if their chip worked. We started talking to them, it was clear that they loved their pets. We asking pet owners 3 simple questions: 1. Does the chip work? 2. Is it registered? 3. If so, where is it registered? After talking to over 1,000 pet owners, we found that they generally has the same responses: 1. When asking "Does the chip work?" most answered with "I think so?", "Hmm good question", or "I have no clue" 2. Next we asked "Is it registered?" and they said "I think it's registered with the shelter", or "I don't know", or "I'm pretty sure but I don't know where it's registered." 3. Last we asked, "Do you know where it's registered?" and they answered "Hmm I don't know actually", or "I don't know. I think my vet knows", and sometimes "Home... something? Finder... something?" This perplexed us so we kept digging to find some answers and we learned a lot.

2) 27 millions chips unregistered? Maybe it's because microchips are only sold to vets and shelters

Pet owners love their pets. So why can't most answer seemingly simple questions about their pet's chip? Why is there such a gap for these incredibly dedicated pet owners? Most pet owners also said they expect the chip to help bring their pet home if they're ever lost. None of this made sense to us. So we did some more research.  Unlike other technologies, microchips are not sold to pet owners directly. Microchips are sold to the veterinary office or the animal shelter or breeder. (Ahhh so now we're getting somewhere!) Since pet owners don't have access to the microchip scanners, they've probably never seen a microchip being scanned. During the adoption process, they were told a chip exists but that's it - for the most part. This is not the fault of animal shelters or vets or breeders, their job isn't to educate pet owners on how the technology works, only to implant it. (Now we're starting to see how the disconnect starts! So very interesting, eh?) Since the 1980's, microchip technology has been key to increasing the rate of lost pets returning home. A microchip is a nearly perfect technology. It uses RFID (radio frequency identification) which engages safe levels of radio waves from a reader to detect a microchip and transpose the unique ID held within it (ex: 981746383628343 or 9AY65R872Y) in a pet. Microchips don't even need batteries. Pretty cool.

3) Microchips are a simple, easy, highly effective technology 

Let's keep this basic: a microchip is a teeny-tiny device that holds a unique number. That number is unique for every microchip sold. The number can be numeric (numbers only) such as 1234567891 or alphanumeric (letters and numbers ) such as 309H7R8MQ214 or 878U1WE9LK2WQ76. During our pet owner research, we learned that some pet owners thought the microchip kept their phone number or contact information. Nope. Only a number. The technology is both simple and confusing, to the deteriment of pet owners who rely on the technology but (until now) didn't have access to the technology to make use of it and make sure pets are safe. Let's continue. In the U.S., microchips are sold in three different frequencies: 125 kiloHertz (kHz), 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz. This is where it quickly gets (very unnecessarily) complicated for pets and pet owners. Let's dig in more. Regarding 125 kiloHertz (kHz): One company decided to create a new frequency and sell their brand of microchip scanner to read them. If you wanted to use their microchips, you had to buy their special scanner. Sneeky, eh? Yup. To make it worse, those 125kHz chips come as encrypted or unencrypted. For a scarily long time, some animals were entering animal shelters or rescues with a 125kHz chip but since the scanner they were using wasn't this special type, it wasn't detecting that frequency and some chips couldn't be detected. If you can't detect the chip, you can't get the microchip number and you can't find the owners. (Yeah... I know exactly how you feel. Makes me angry too.) Eventually, that company was forced to allow other scanner manufacturers to detect their microchips*. Eventually, Universal Scanners were created (meaning, they can read any microchip regardless of frequency or manufacturer). Check the Chip only uses Universal Scanners which can detect any chip, encrypted or not. About 134.2 kHz: This frequency is the worldwide standard frequency. Most every country uses only one frequency type - this one. It's the ISO chip (International Organization for Standardization). In fact, if you travel with your pet internationally, you are required to have this ISO 134.2kHz microchip (even if you have a different frequency - presto - now you have two microchips if you want to bring Fluffy along.) *If you want to know even more about microchips and scanners or site references for any details above, visit Wikipedia using the search term "Microchip implant (animal)". Now you can see why it took us years of research to find out why pet owners were confused about microhcips.

4) We really need public access to microchip scanners

Unlike other consumer technologies, microchips are not sold to pet owners directly. Microchips are sold to the veterinary office or the animal shelter or breeder. Therefore, since pet owners don't have access to the microchip scanners, they've probably never seen a microchip being scanned, nor implanted. Most likely during the adoption processs they were told their pet has a chip and to register it but largely that's all - for the most part. This is not the fault of animal shelters or vets or breeders, their job isn't to educate pet owners on how the technology works, only to implant it and help pets. (Now we're starting to see how the disconnect starts. So very interesting, eh?) The company started because it was clear people needed access to microchip scanners so they could help lost pets. That was obvious. But what wasn't obvious, was that they needed help registering and checking the chip too. Yes, we really do need public access to microchip scanners.

5) Because people who find a lost pet want to help them get home safely and as soon as possible

I came across a study called "Search methods that people use to find owners of lost pets" lead by researcher Dr. Linda Lord, PHD, DVM (Dr. of Veterinary Medicine) from the University of Ohio Veterinary School. It's easy to find online. What it says in a nutshell is that people who find a lost pet will most likely try to find the owner before they take the pet to a shelter, as a last resort. It would certainly be true for me and probably for you too. Lost pets just need to go home. It's easy to see their scared and worried faces and be compelled to help them. Why? Probably because it makes us feel good, feel more like the kind of human we all want to be. I like that. So shouldn't the tech meant to help lost pets be available to Good Samaritans? We think so. That's why anyone who finds a lost pet can use a kiosk to help in finding its owner. This Good Samaritan Support we provide is free - as it should be. Learn more on the Good Samaritan Support page.

About Microchips

About Microchips
Our Improved Microchip System

We've Improved the Microchip System

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