A lack of published information documenting problems with the microchip data for the reclaiming of stray animals entering Australian shelters limits improvement of the current microchipping system. A retrospective study analysing admission data for stray, adult dogs (n = 7258) and cats (n = 6950) entering the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland between January 2012 and December 2013 was undertaken to determine the character and frequency of microchip data problems and their impact on outcome for the animal. Only 28% of dogs and 9% of cats were microchipped, and a substantial proportion (37%) had problems with their data, including being registered to a previous owner or organisation (47%), all phone numbers incorrect/disconnected (29%), and the microchip not registered (14%). A higher proportion of owners could be contacted when the microchip had no problems, compared to those with problems (dogs, 93% vs. 70%; cats, 75% vs. 41%). The proportion of animals reclaimed declined significantly between microchipped animals with no data problems, microchipped animals with data problems and non-microchipped animals-87%, 69%, and 37%, respectively, for dogs and 61%, 33%, and 5%, respectively, for cats. Strategies are needed to increase the accuracy of microchip data to facilitate the reclaiming of stray dogs and cats.
Keywords: RSPCA; cat; data; dog; microchip; shelter; stray.