Following our blog about Identification and Registration (I&R) we decided to interview Dr. Sven Huether, expert in the field of electronic identification of animals, and asked him to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding I&R.
What is a transponder and what is it used for?
A transponder is a device that’s inserted under the skin of an animal that carries the microchip, containing the unique number of the animal, and an antenna, receiving the radio wave signals. The transponder is encased in bio glass for protection, and it’s injected in a standard spot under the skin, at the back or left side of the neck. It takes roughly three weeks for the thin layers of connective tissue to form around the implant and hold it in place. The process of identifying an animal with a transponder is called microchipping.
What is the ideal age for getting a cat or dog implanted with a transponder?
This isn’t so much a question of age, but rather a question of weight. If you wanted to, you could take your animal to the vet the day after his or her birth. But the most opportune moment would be the first time you get your companion vaccinated at the vet. What is far more important is to remember that the transponder needs about three weeks to settle into the tissue and it’s imperative to ensure the animal stays calm during that period. Don’t forget the animal needs to be registered as well, preferably in a database that’s a member of Europetnet.
The microchip number, or the identification number of the animal, can be read by scanning the animal’s body – how does this work?
The microchip carrying transponder uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, meaning that it uses radio waves to transmit information. This technology stores the data on the microchip and uses electromagnetic force to communicate the saved information to a device that is able to detect and interpret it. When a specific type of reader is held in close proximity to the transponder, it will be able to detect and retrieve the data.
The number of the microchip is registered in a database to demonstrate the identity of the animal and to establish the relationship between animal and owner - is the microchip designed to last the entire lifespan of the animal?
First of all, it’s the owner’s responsibility to register the number on the microchip. The data that’s recorded on the chip can’t be altered afterwards but the registration details held in the database, such as a change of address etc., can. That’s why it’s important to register the animal as well as to microchip them. And yes, once the transponder is attached to the animal’s tissue, it will remain there for the rest of their life.
Do you expect any new developments in the field of transponder technology?
I don’t expect any big improvements but there is an ongoing discussion about standardising the technology allowing to add more data into the transponder such as the gender, the date of the birth, and the initial registry data.
Transponders are produced by different companies, how can cat or dog owners ensure their vet uses the latest, and best performing transponder available?
Transponders are subject to strict regulations and it’s possible to check whether they comply with ISO standards through websites such as www.dvc.services. Typing in the 15-digit number verifies whether it’s passed ISO standards and whether the manufacturer is known.
Where can people take a lost dog or cat?
Every veterinary practise or clinic will usually have at least one reader. The same goes for shelters, breeders, and particular animal protection organisations. And even the police in some places.
About Sven Huether
Sven Huether studied veterinary medicine and has been working in the field of electronic animal identification for 30 years. He has been the official representative for Germany on the ISO committees since 2004 and also works in the field of animal welfare. He is currently working with the German NGO TASSO, the largest European private I&R database and animal welfare organisation. His specialisation is offering advice on the implementation of all ISO procedures for the regulation of a national identification system that is fraud proof and guarantees uniqueness and traceability.