Warning: Avoid the
Banfield Microchip

Update re Banfield microchip: January 25, 2018: I just received an email from petlink.net letting me know that "the information is 14-years old, ISO is now the recommended format by most Animal Health organizations including AAHA, AVMA, SAWA, HSUS, etc." Please contact them for updated info. Thank you, petlink.net!

Update: This article was first written in 2004, then updated in 2009. For the most recent information about this chip, please visit the Banfield website.

Banfield Microchip

Since February 2004, Banfield pet hospitals have been using a chip with a 134-kHz frequency to microchip pets. The chip meets the standards of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and is effectively used in over 140 countries.

Right now, it is not being effectively used in the United States. 

The Problem

The problem is that the ISO microchip, manufactured by Crystal Tag, cannot be read by the vast majority of scanners used by animal shelters in the United States. 

Scanners currently used by U.S. shelters are only capable of reading microchips at lower frequencies. They cannot read, or even detect, the higher frequency of the Banfield microchip. 

Cat, and other pet, owners have been lulled into a false sense of security thinking that their lost pet is safer due to having their pet microchipped.

Suspending Use of This Chip

The Human Society of the United States, other organizations, and even Petsmart (where most Banfield hospitals are located) have all asked Banfield to stop using the higher frequency microchip until shelters are equipped with ISO scanners to read the chip. 

After some delay, Banfield has agreed to "temporarily suspend microchip shipments" to the pet hospitals until mid-July 2004. At that time, they hope to have all shelters within a 25-mile radius of Banfield hospitals equipped with ISO scanners. 

We'll have to wait and see what happens. However, there is still concern about your cat or other pet being lost outside of the 25-mile radius. Perhaps it would be best to avoid the Banfield microchip until all U.S. shelters are fully equipped with scanners that can read both frequency microchips. 

Confusion at Shelters

Longhair Tortoiseshell CatLonghair Tortoiseshell Cat

Until recently, workers at the majority of animal shelters were unaware  of this microchip. They did not know that their scanners could not read it. 

Shelter workers assumed that if their scanner did not read or detect a microchip, that the animal was not chipped. Pets that cannot be identified are euthanized or put up for adoption after a specified period of time. 

Even after shelters are fully equipped with scanners that can read all microchips, will all workers be fully trained?

Use a Collar and Pet ID Tag

Microchips can often provide an extra "insurance policy" to help your lost cat or dog make his or her way home to you. But there are obviously problems.

For extra safety, your cat or dog should wear a pet collar with a pet ID tag at all times. Be sure to keep the information current.

Update to this Article

For the most recent information, please go directly to the Banfield website.

Related Topic

Microchipping - General Information about Microchipping Your Cat

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