A pet microchip is an inert device about the size of a grain of rice implanted at the base of the neck between your pet’s shoulder blades. It uses no energy, has no battery, and lasts for the lifetime of your pet. On it there is a 15-digit code unique to your animal.
The microchip has no side effects and is undetectable except by special microchip scanners. Vets, shelters and certain government employees use these scanners on lost or stray animals to retrieve the 15-digit code, which they then use to reunite pet and owner.
Safe, unnoticeable, and more secure than a collar and tag, microchips allow shelters and vets to contact the owners of stray or injured animals.
In Victoria, it is illegal to sell a puppy or a kitten that has not been microchipped. Before commercial breeders, pounds, shelters or pet shops can sell or give away any cat or dog, that cat or dog has to be microchipped.
Any cat or dog that is to be registered with a local council, for example dangerous breeds, must also be microchipped.
We recommend microchipping all pets, not just dogs and cats. Every year, we see too many stray reptiles, ferrets, rabbits and birds that cannot be identified.
The 15-digit code is a unique identifier that allows vets, shelters, pounds and certain qualified government officials to look up owners on a microchip registry.
In Victoria, there are six such microchip registries licensed by the Department of Agriculture. Within two days of implanting your pet’s microchip, your authorised microchip implanter must upload your pet’s details and your contact information to one of them. We prefer the Central Animal Records for its size and streamlined services but by law, all licensed registries must cooperate with each other to establish the ownership of a stray or injured animal.
When a pet is microchipped or when an owner purchases an already microchipped pet, they should be given a certificate of identification. With this, they will receive information about the registry with which the animal is listed and details on how to update their contact information should they move house or change phone number.
Only licensed professionals who have undergone the relevant training can implant your pet’s microchip. This includes all vets, some veterinary nurses and some council staff.
Similarly, only authorised implanters, the pet owner, certain authorised government staff and people with the owner’s consent can access a pet’s microchip registration, and only for the purposes of reuniting a pet and its owner. Once an animal has arrived at a shelter, the practitioners have three days to scan its microchip to begin the process of reunion.
If you have lost your pet, you can contact Central Animal Records to let them know. While you are there, make sure your contact details are up to date. You should also contact local animal shelters and council pounds.
If you know your pet’s microchip number, enter it into Pet Address. Pet Address is a free service that searches your pet’s microchip number across databases and allows owners to update their contact details for these databases. It is important to make sure this information is current because it is the most immediate means of contacting the owners of lost or injured pets.
If you have found or lost a pet, visit our Lost & Found pets page for resources and advice to help reunite it with its owner.