Banfield Applauds Legislation Promoting Open Pet Microchip Technology - All Scanners Read All Chips

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Banfield, The Pet Hospital applauds new legislation directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement open microchip technology for Pets in which all scanners can read all chips. Right now, a standard for open microchip technology does not exist in the U.S. and, as a result, some companies have chosen to encrypt their microchips so that only certain scanners can read the chips. This has effectively blocked competition in the marketplace and prevented distribution of a scanner that could read all microchips. The language is included in House Report 109-255, accompanying the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives on October 28, the Senate on November 3 and sent for signature to President Bush.

The following language appears in the ag conference report 109-255: "The conferees support the microchipping of Pets for identification under a system of open microchip technology in which all scanners can read all chips. The conferees direct APHIS to develop the appropriate regulations that allow for universal reading ability and best serve the interests of Pet owners. The conferees also direct APHIS to take into consideration the effect such regulation may have on the current practice of microchipping Pets in this country, and to report to the Committees on Appropriations within 90 days of the date of enactment of this Act on progress toward that end." "This new legislation is a huge win for America's Pets. Shelters and veterinarians should be able to help reunite lost Pets with their families using one microchip scanner capable of reading all microchips, no matter if the chip was implanted in San Diego, Chicago, Miami or Toronto," said Scott Campbell, DVM, Banfield Chairman and CEO. "Until now, an open microchip technology has been blocked by companies who are focused on maintaining their market share and profit margins." When an open technology is in place, any scanner will be able to read any microchip in contrast to today where encrypted chips operate with a proprietary identification code requiring specialized scanners, the computerized version of a decoder ring. In addition, when an open technology is used with International Standards technology (ISO), any scanner anywhere in the world will be able to read the microchip. Credits cards are an example of ISO technology in use today. The standards enable credit cards to be read no matter which merchant swipes them, anywhere in the world. ISO technology standards for Pet microchips could have the same result.

Banfield also applauds the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families. "This new legislation would not have passed if it weren't for tireless efforts by the Pet health organizations in the Coalition and their commitment to keeping America's Pets safe," said Dr. Campbell. America's animal care organizations banded together to form the Coalition in July 2004 and have advocated the use of a scanner that can read all chips, including encrypted and unencrypted 125 kHz, 128 kHz and 134.2 kHz ISO chips. (Read more about the Coalition at www.readallchips.org.) Less than 5% of America's 164 million dogs and cats have a microchip despite the fact the technology has been around for more than 20 years. In other countries that have established an open technology, the number of Pets with microchips has increased dramatically. In Great Britain, which uses an international standard (ISO) 134.2 kHz microchip, 25% of Pets are now microchipped.

"As one of the nation's largest veterinary practices, our main concern is for the safety of America's Pets. We believe requiring an open microchip standard will eliminate current incompatibility issues and allow more competition among all companies, resulting in lower costs and more Pets with microchips," said Dr. Campbell. "Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina revealed just how few American Pets have microchips and clearly shows how the system needs improvement." An open national standard for Pet microchip technology is recommended by many national animal health organizations, including: Humane Society of United States American Humane Association American Veterinary Medical Association American Animal Hospital Association Society for Animal Welfare Administrators American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals American National Standards Institute American Kennel Club - Companion Animal Recovery Program American Association of Feline Practitioners Unlike much of Europe and Canada which already use an open standard for Pet microchips, the U.S. currently has various standards which include 134 kHz, 128 kHz, 125 kHz non-encrypted and 125 kHz encrypted. These differing forms of technology cause Pets to get lost in the system, highlighting the importance of establishing one global system for Pet microchips. The U.S. already only uses ISO standard microchips for wildlife, fish, zoo animals, and livestock. It makes sense that microchips used for Pets should follow suit.

"We believe strongly that America's animal health organizations, the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families and the USDA should work together to determine what the national standard should be and how the transition should be completed," said Dr. Campbell. "Banfield supports a transition to international standard organization (ISO) 134.2 kHz microchip as the national standard and we look forward to working with the USDA, the Coalition, and microchip manufacturers in this important initiative." Banfield, The Pet Hospital is celebrating its golden anniversary in 2005. Founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1955, Banfield has become the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the world, with more than 500 locations across the U.S., in the U.K. and in Mexico. Banfield helps extend the lives of more than 3.5 million Pets each year. Banfield used an open ISO 134.2 kHz microchip in early 2004, but temporarily halted microchipping in all hospitals until a national standard could be established and scanners that read all chips could be distributed to shelters nationwide.

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