horse standing
Several industry groups have collaborated to create a central database to search for data from microchipped horses. • Photo by Molly Montag.

American Horse Council to Build Universal Equine Microchip Look-Up Tool

A planned database would allow the public, industry officials and disaster responders to quickly look up microchip identification information about horses from multiple breed registrations, the American Horse Council (AHC) announced.

Officials say the goal is to create a database that would allow users to do one search for chip identification data for horses, rather than having to check with multiple breed registries or chip databases in order to find information about a chip implanted in a horse.

“Technology and public opinion have finally aligned to allow microchipping to become an efficient aid when identifying horses. Microchips are a safe and effective form of identity for sale, competition, or emergency response,” AHC President Julie Broadway said in a statement. “We hope that by simplifying the method with which the public can verify a horse’s identity, we can incentivize the country to look into microchipping their horses.”

Some breed organizations, such as The Jockey Club, require microchips to be implanted in order for a horse to be registered. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) does not currently require chips, but in March was urged by committees at its annual convention to continue to move forward with chip identification implementation.

Although chips are not required to register horses with AQHA, the Amarillo, Texas-based organization is already able to record chip data to a horse’s permanent record in order to assist with identification. Officials with AQHA said during the convention they are developing applications — specifically for barrel racers — that would track a horse’s performance through microchip data.

The AHC is able to build the searchable database through a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It will partner with The Jockey Club Technology Services to build the look-up tool, and is inviting all registries that collect and store equine microchip data to collaborate with it on the project. “The creation of the Equine Microchip Look-up Tool is a vital step to reaching the ASPCA’s goal of ensuring all equines have good welfare,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “The tool will not only help reunite horses with their owners during natural disasters, but it will also help to facilitate the growth of safety net programs where individuals who have owned, cared for or admired a horse can sign up to help that horse should he ever become at risk.”

The timeline for launch is fourth quarter 2018.

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