The AVMA endorses the use of electronic identification in animals and supports standardization in materials, procedures, equipment, and registries. Veterinarians are thereby encouraged to recommend the use of electronic identification of animals to their clients.
The objectives of an effective system of electronic identification of animals are to:
Scanning animals for microchips is necessary for the identification system to be effective. Therefore, every companion dog, cat, other small mammal, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, and equid presented to a veterinarian should be scanned, whenever possible, for the presence of a microchip. The veterinarian, or designated staff, should scan the animal and note in the patient's medical record if a microchip is present, and if so, record the microchip number in the patient's medical record. This routine scanning for a microchip not only aids in the positive identification of an animal, but also provides the opportunity to assess if the microchip is still functioning properly and located appropriately, as well as reminding owners to keep their microchip database contact information current.
If a microchip implant is detected of which the client is not aware, the veterinarian, or designated staff, should inform the client of this fact, provide the client with contact information for the microchip database company, and encourage the client to contact that company. The veterinarian should document in the patient's medical record that he or she spoke to the client about these matters and should consider contacting the microchip database company with the client’s permission. The veterinarian is not expected to investigate nor resolve ownership disputes over an animal, nor should a veterinarian be held liable for relying on a client's claim of ownership following scanning.
A veterinarian is expected to exercise his or her professional judgment on ownership before establishing a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). In those circumstances that raise suspicion that the presenting person may not actually be the lawful owner of the animal, a veterinarian should ask for documentation of ownership, such as governmental registration, bill of sale, adoption documents, or microchip documentation. Documentation of ownership should be required when a client requests that a veterinarian remove a microchip. Where the veterinarian has cause to believe that ownership of the animal is unclear, the veterinarian should postpone treatment until evidence of ownership is presented unless, in the judgment of the veterinarian, the treatment is necessary to maintain the health of the animal, to preserve its life, or protect public health. The detection of a microchip implant of which the client is unaware may raise suspicion but should not be considered, in and of itself, sufficient evidence that the client is not the lawful owner. In such a case, a veterinarian may proceed with treatment. In the situation where an animal that has a microchip is found and brought to a veterinarian with no claim of ownership, the veterinarian should contact the microchip database company to locate the owner of record. If unsuccessful, the proper animal control authority should then be contacted for assistance, consistent with any local ordinance.
The following key elements are necessary to achieve the objectives of an effective system of electronic identification of animals: