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Using the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool

Young Asian woman using a laptop and stroking a cat.
photo by @IndypendenZ

The universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool, an online tool maintained by the American Animal Hospital Association, should be the first website you check when attempting to find owner information for a found pet.

What is the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool? 

The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool should be the first website you check when attempting to find owner information for a found pet.

Hopefully, if you ever find a lost pet, they will have an ID tag with the owner’s phone number, as this is usually the quickest way to return a pet to their family. However, if Fido or FiFi doesn’t have an external ID, you’ll need to take them to a local vet’s office to scan them with a universal scanner to see if they have a microchip implanted beneath the skin.

If they have a microchip, the scanner will reveal a 9, 10, or 15-digit microchip number. Contrary to popular belief, the scanner doesn’t provide owner contact information. It doesn’t even identify the registry. The vet’s office looks at the microchip number, and if they can guess who the microchip manufacturer is, they may give you that company’s phone number.

 Finding Lost Pet Owner Information

So, where do you start looking for owner information? It can be a long and confusing process, mainly because there is no singular national database in the United States, which means you can register any brand of a microchip with any registry. 

You can submit the same microchip ID number in multiple registries. Even if the vet guesses the microchip brand correctly, that information may not help you find the owner. Are you confused yet?

5 Things About the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool

Here are five things every animal lover should know about AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool:

1. It’s a Search Engine, Not a Registry

It’s not a registry or database, and it doesn’t store pet owners’ contact information. Instead, it is a lookup tool– like Google for microchip registrations. It “peeks” into (most) major microchip registries (see number 4 on the list below) and tells you within a few seconds if/where the microchip number is registered.

2. It Shows the Registry’s Info, Not the Pet Owner’s

If the chip is registered with a specific company, the tool will provide the company’s website and phone number and the date the chip was last updated.

The tool does not show any pet owner contact information – not even the owner’s name. It just shows the registry’s info. Registry info will show up for any “participating registries” (AAHA’s term for the registries it can search). However, just because a chip is registered with a company, you shouldn’t assume that the same company manufactured the chip.

3. It Searches for Registrations First, Then Possible Manufacturers

If the chip isn’t registered in any participating registries, it will point you in the direction of the possible manufacturer of the microchip. You can contact the manufacturer to see which organizations they may have sold their chips to.

Unfortunately, this information will only show for non-registered chips. If a chip is registered, it will only display the information seen in point number 2 above. So, if the manufacturer’s registry is not also a participating registry in AAHA, that company will not be listed when the chip is registered somewhere else.

4. Some Registries Do Not Participate

Not every registry participates in the tool even though it’s completely free. The lack of participation is not because of cost or inconvenience – those companies actively choose not to be part of the lookup. Click here for a list of participating companies.

Currently, AVID is a company that does not participate in AAHA’s lookup tool. Suppose you have pets registered in this database. In that case, we encourage you to contact them and ask them to participate in AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool in the interest of increasing pet reunifications.

5. Some Animal Professionals Don’t Use It

Not every shelter knows about or uses the tool when they have a found pet. This challenge can lead to some dangerous confusion.  For example, suppose your pet’s microchip is a HomeAgain chip but registered with AKC Reunite. The shelter may call HomeAgain directly without looking it up on AAHA’s tool and could miss the AKC registration.

Some pet owners choose to update their pet’s information with the original manufacturer’s database as an added safety net to prevent this type of confusion. As long as all registrations are kept up-to-date, there is no harm in registering your pet’s microchip in multiple registries.

Hopefully, soon, every shelter and vet in the country will use consistently, so no pet will be stuck in an animal shelter or veterinary clinic because someone couldn’t find its registration.

Clearing Up the Confusion

We hope this information clears up some confusion around the much-asked question of how to find owner information for a found pet and provides some insight into AAHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup Tool.

Now, it’s your turn to enlighten an animal-loving friend or spread the word to your local shelters, vets, and rescue groups!

The Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.