We would like to thank Marilyn Knapp Litt, the Director of Lost Dogs of Texas for the information in this article. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Marilyn formed a group of volunteers which successfully reunited animals that had been displaced by the storm with their families.
Lost Dogs of America has a trained team of volunteers, called Microchip Hunters who track the owners of found microchipped animals when the registration information is out of date and even if the chip is unregistered! This free non-profit service is available to shelters, rescues, or anyone who has found an animal. Just submit microchip numbers you would like help with on the form at MicrochipHelp.com
The Microchip Hunters had 829 requests in 2019 from shelters, individuals, and animal rescues to trace untraceable microchips. We located owners in 50% of our cases. (That is the average for all states. Lost Dogs Illinois found the owner in a remarkable 61% of 367 cases.)
If you are more a DIY type of person, you can do your own research online to find the owner. Put the chip in PetMicrochipLookUp.com to see if it is registered and which manufacturer to call. Do not skip this step if you know the manufacturer already! All companies will register all other companies’ chips. It is not unusual for a pet owner to have two types of chips but have them registered at only one company for convenience.
PetMicrochipLookUp (nickname AHAA) gives you phone numbers to call the microchip company and report the animal as found. If the microchip is not registered, ask who implanted the chip. They will give you the name of the vet or shelter who microchipped the pet and you can call them and try to contact the owner. (Here is a useful and comprehensive list of microchip formats.)
Generally speaking, microchip companies will not disclose owner information to someone who has found an animal. They will try to contact the owner. When you call the microchip company, always be friendly. If you are working or volunteering for a rescue or shelter, be sure to state that right away. You want to know every bit of information they have and ask for that. Double check all spelling and numbers.
If you have owner information, BeenVerified or LexisNexis are fee services that let you research who lives at an address or who owns a phone number. There are also free online services, such as FastPeopleSearch. (It was free as of 2020.) Searching social media may give you an answer or many wrong answers! Never post a microchip number or the owner’s name online. You cannot control what happens to information after it is posted. I have known people to be called repeatedly at all hours about a dog they never had!
You may call many wrong numbers before finding a right one, but there is a real thrill in helping a lost dog or cat go home to a grateful neighbor. If you reach a dead end, we are there to help.
Updated – July 13, 2020