‘Useless’ microchipping site ‘ripping off’ pet owners
A veterinarian and director of one of the nation's largest animal microchip registries is warning pet owners about an online pet registry site he says is likely duping Australians out of money.
Doug Black, 64, from Central Animal Records (CAR) said if anyone signed up to petchipregistry-au.info lost their dog or cat, the US-based website would be "useless" to them.
"We have gone down many paths to try to prevent pet owners from being ripped off by this site, but we have hit just as many brick walls," he said.
"The web site is real, but it's of absolute zero value to anyone in Australia as it does not link to anyone.
"The normal national microchip registries here in Australia don't have any interaction with it, and there's no legislation in any state that says it's a recognised (microchip) registry either.
"It's useless. If your dog is registered to that site and gets lost, good luck."
The only contact information on petchipregistry-au.info is a post office box address in Tampa, Florida and an email address.
Kayla Boyd from petchipregistry-au.info's email support team said she had forwarded questions from the Courier Mail on to "the correct department," but they had not yet responded.
"Please note we do not provide any other service other than what is claimed on our web page," she wrote in an email.
Dr Black said another red flag was that the Pet Chip Register site charged an annual fee of $24.
He said legitimate microchip registries in Australia were either free or charged a one-off fee of about $10 or $15 to register or change details.
There are several different licensed microchip registries in Australia, with each having the ability to work with each other when searching for a lost pet via microchip number, Dr Black said.
Veterinarians, pounds and authorised microchip implanters only work with the licensed registries in their state.
Christine Lee, 58, from the Missing and Stolen Pets in QLD Facebook page, said she came across the Pet Registry web site while trying to help a woman find a stolen American Akita.
She said the woman had registered the dog with petchipregistry-au.info and paid the annual fee, but when she looked up the dogs microchip after he was stolen, there was no record of the dog.
"Anyone who has their dog registered with this company are not actually legal owners of the dog according to the microchip," Mrs Lee said.
"If you are the owner and have the microchip number, there's a legitimate central registry site called Pet Address that you can go to (in Australia), if you're not sure who your pet is registered with.
"If you feed the microchip number into that it will take you to the site it's registered with, if it doesn't it's because it's not registered in Australia.
The petchipregistry-au.info web site also states it is listed in Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the US.
Social media users from at least Australia and the UK have queried the authenticity of petchipregistry-au.info in both countries throughout various Facebook posts.
In a recent post to a Jimboomba Facebook group, Belinda Harris questioned the annual fee.
"Just looking at the pet register sites to update details and noticed that they're now charging $24 to update details," she wrote.
"I've never been charged before, has anyone had to pay to update details?"
In another Facebook pets group, Kylie Barlow stated the Pet Register web site had been "the cause of many concerns."
"There seems to be a regular issue that is noticed in the animal industry and that is people are using an American based company to register their microchips," she wrote.
"Their microchip registrations/updates are NOT authorised in Australia (sic). … "Unfortunately, it is usually the first site that appears in a Google search.
"This company charges the public for chip registration and updates and no authorised officer or vets have access to info in Australia."
Dr Black said CAR and other microchip recognised microchip registries that operate in Queensland are licensed under the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 and the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Regulation 2009.
He said recognised microchip registries operated under similar legislation in each state.
According to business.qld.gov.au, a microchip registry service provider must hold an approved license and pay an annual fee of $1040.75.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which enforces Australian Consumer Law in Queensland - including consumer protections such as a prohibition on misleading or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce - would not say if, or how many, complaints had been received about petchipregistry-au.info
"The OFT does not generally comment on whether it has received complaints about a specific business as complaints alone are not evidence of breaches of the legislation it administers, may unfairly impact a business, and in some matters commenting on complaints may jeopardise an investigation," she said.
"When OFT receives a complaint from a consumer, it is assessed to determine whether there are possible breaches of legislation administered by OFT.
"If a possible breach is detected it will be investigated and if sufficient evidence is obtained to substantiate a breach, the OFT will take appropriate and proportionate enforcement action which may include a warning, issuing an infringement notice, entering into an enforceable undertaking, or prosecution action."
The spokeswoman said consumers had the right to expect a business would not make false or misleading representations about its products or services.
She said if anyone believed a business was not doing the right thing they should lodge a complaint with the OFT at qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by ringing 137468.
Ms Boyd, from petchipregistry-au.info's email support team, disputed allegations the site might be a "scam."
"It seems our company is being falsely accused of being a "scam" by a couple of negative reviews across the internet," she wrote in an email.
"Unfortunately, it is very difficult for every member to be satisfied out of hundreds of daily members.
"Upon further research, false accusations of "scam" and such negative reviews are due to assumptions of our company claiming to be a different company, or assumptions of our company claiming to provide services that we do not provide."
A list of microchip registries licensed to operate in Queensland are listed on business.qld.gov.au or pet owners can check the microchip registry their dog or cat is registered with at petaddress.com.au