The microchip is one of the greatest technological aids to returning lost or stolen pets to their owners. As valuable as they are, however, GPS microchips are not currently commercially available due to the limitations of current technology.
The typical pet identification chip is a tiny device made of silicon and other inert “biocompatible” materials that are nontoxic and hypoallergenic that are implanted into the flesh between a dog‘s shoulder blades. According to Vet Info, these chips are “radio frequency identification (RDIF) technology [that] does not actively transmit information.” These chips have no batteries, so they last for the lifetime of the animal without replacement.
Advantages and disadvantages of microchips
Microchips are an affordable method of permanently identifying many, if not most dogs. Although some discomfort is involved in the process it is relatively short in duration, being similar to a regular vaccination. Microchips cannot be removed or altered. However, not all shelters have microchip readers that can access the information on all kinds of chips. In addition, on rare occasions microchips might migrate from their implantation site, making them difficult to find and to read. The dog owner must also register the chip information with a recovery service in order for it to be of any use in relocating the dog if it is lost or stolen.
Microchip pet recovery services
Several independent pet recovery organisations exist, each of which uses a different brand of microchip. The Kennel Club has a microchip registry service (see Resources).
The Land Air Sea website explains that, “Most GPS tracking collars for dogs utilise a combination of satellite and cellular technology called Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS).” The dog’s position can be located on a computer, a mobile phone with Internet capabilities, or by the pet location registry. However, many GPS collars are too bulky for many small dogs.
Ordinary RFID microchips are often referred to as “GPS microchips.” While such a device might be available in the future, current technology is too limited to create a GPS device that is both long-lasting and small enough to implant under a dog’s skin.