Q. What is an animal microchip implant?
|Microchip Implants: Questions and Answers
A. An animal microchip implant, also known as a “transponder,” is similar to a human microchip implant. (1-2) It is a cylindrical capsule that contains of a radio frequency identification (RFID) device, a tuning capacitor and a copper antenna coil. Although most of the capsules are made of glass, some are made of a polymer material. (3-5)
The approximate size of the majority of pet microchip implants is 12 mm in length and 2 mm in width. A “MiniChip” is also available and it is reported to be “one third the size of the standard microchip.” (6)
Current animal microchip implants store an identification number and do not have an internal power source or moving parts.
Q. Are all animal microchip implants the same?
A. There are a variety of animal microchip implants that operate at different frequencies. For example: 125 kilohertz (kHz), 128 kHz and 134.2 kHz. Also, some chips are referred to as ISO (International Standards Organization) chips and others as non-ISO chips. The total number of digits that make up the identification number may vary depending on the brand of microchip. Some chips are encrypted and others are not encrypted.
In order to prevent the microchip from moving around in the body, some brands have an anti-migrational sheath that covers one end of the chip. The sheath is usually made of polypropylene, and contains a round hole, barb, extrusion lines and a sprue. (A sprue is at one end of the microchip and looks like a “twisted nipple with jagged elevations.”) (7)
In addition to regular microchip implants, there are temperature-sensing microchips that are supposed to be able to allow the reader to measure the temperature of an animal. However, the accuracy of temperature-sensing microchip implants is questionable
NOTE: Some researchers have observed that when cancerous growths formed at the site of a microchip implant, the growths often started to form at the area of the anti-migrational sheath. For example, in the study entitled “Transponder-Induced Sarcoma in the Heterozygous p53+/- Mouse,” Kerry T. Blanchard and colleagues write:
“Although there was variation in the extent of neoplastic involvement of tissue immediately surrounding the transponder site, it appeared that tumor(s) arose in the mesenchymal tissue surrounding the polypropylene component of the transponder, initially involving the barbed area and then in some cases extending completely around the entire transponder site.” (8)
This latter observation by the researchers is important because it indicates that the anti-migrational sheath – due to its design, composition of material and/or tissue reaction elicited – may cause tumours.
|“Transponder-Induced Sarcoma in the Heterozygous p53+/-Mouse” by Kerry T. Blanchard et al., Toxicologic Pathology, 1999.
||Anti-migrational sheath (Sh) with barb (B) and hole (H). X20
Q. What is a temperature-sensing microchip implant?
|Surface of the polypropylene sheath with numerous extrusion lines (EL) and the sprue (Sp), which has the appearance of a twisted nipple with jagged elevations. X40
A. A temperature-sensing microchip implant is a bio-sensing microchip that is marketed as a way to measure the temperature of an animal. (9)
Q. Is the temperature-sensing microchip implant accurate?
A. According to the “WARNINGS
” section of promotional literature by Destron Fearing Corporation, which was purchased by Allflex USA, Inc. from Digital Angel Corporation in 2011, the temperature-sensing Bio-Thermo® LifeChip microchip implant that is sold for use in companion animals, alpacas, llamas and equines “will not replicate rectal temperature.” (10-13)
In fine print of the document entitled “LifeChip®: Equine Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Microtransponder System with Bio-Thermo® Technology,” it says:
“Conclusion: The study horse’s actual temperature will be 3º higher than Bio-Thermo readings. Knowing this, the horse’s manager or veterinarian will be able to quickly and easily identify if the horse’s temperature is abnormal by adding 3º to the Bio-Thermo reading.” (14)
Destron Fearing’s document entitled “LifeChip®: Alpaca/Llama Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Microtransponder System with Bio-Thermo® Technology,” says:
“Conclusion: The study llama’s actual temperature was 1º to 2º higher than Bio-Thermo readings. Knowing this, the alpaca/llama’s manager or veterinarian will be able to quickly and easily identify if the animal’s temperature is abnormal by adding 1º to 2º to the Bio-Thermo reading.” (15)
NOTE: In the “WARNINGS
” section of the aforementioned equine LifeChip data sheet, it says the implant is “not for use in horses intended for human consumption.” (16) Also, in Destron’s LifeChip data sheet that pertains to alpacas and llamas it says: “Not for use in alpacas/llamas intended for human consumption.” (17) A similar warning is given in Destron’s LifeChip data sheet that pertains to companion animals. It says: “Not for use in animals intended for human consumption.” (18)
The aforementioned warnings are important to consider because some of these animals will enter the human and animal food chain. For more information, please see the question: “Is it possible for animal microchip implants to enter the human food chain?
Q. How is a microchip’s identification number read?
A. In order to detect a microchip and read its identification number, a compatible scanner (also referred to as a “reader”) is placed near the microchip implant. When the scanner is turned on, it sends a radio frequency signal through the animal’s body to activate the implant and read the microchip number. If the scanner is able to detect and read the chip, an identification number is displayed on the scanner and subsequently entered into a database. If the animal’s contact data is current and correctly registered in the appropriate, accessible database, the number can identify the animal and the person to whom the animal is registered.
Q. Who is allowed to implant a microchip in an animal?
A. Depending on the region or country in which you live, a microchip may be implanted in your pet by a veterinarian, designated shelter employee or breeder. Anyone who has completed a brief microchipping course – either in person or online – may also be allowed to perform the procedure.
Q. Are there potential risks associated with the microchip implant procedure?
A. As stated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):
“Although it looks like a simple injection, it is very important that the microchip is implanted properly. Using too much force, placing the needle too deeply, or placing it in the wrong location can not only make it difficult to detect or read the microchip in the future, but it can also cause life-threatening problems.” (19)
Anthony Roberts, Policy and Public Affairs Officer for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the United Kingdom (UK), writes:
“[P]oorly implanted chips can lead to severe injuries during implantation, increased risks of microchip migration and may have adverse effects on diagnostic techniques such as MRI.” (20)
The “Microchip Implant Manual – Cats/Dogs” by the Microchip Advisory Group (MAG) in the UK says:
“Microchips that have been incorrectly implanted in the scruff are likely to migrate around the neck and onto the front of the shoulders or chest. Chips wrongly implanted over the side of either shoulder (instead of in-between) are likely to migrate down either respective leg… .” (21)
In addition, published scientific documents and adverse microchip reports show that animals have died because of the microchip implant procedure.
NOTE: In spite of the potential risks associated with microchipping animals, some microchipping courses only require an individual to be 16 years of age or older, and implant one animal in order to pass the course. For example, The Pet Chip Company Ltd., which boasts of being “the largest Training Provider teaching non-veterinarians to microchip companion animals … inside and outside the UK,” (22) says:
“In order to show the vet that you are competent to microchip companion animals you have to microchip at least one animal, although we prefer if you chip two or even three. The vet then signs a certificate for you and that is recognised by Petlog (UK Kennel Club) that you have been appropriately trained.” (23)
The website E-TrainingForDogs.com has offered a one-hour online microchip course. It says:
“Learn to microchip your own pets … SAVE $$ ON VET'S FEES or start a profitable small business or add onto existing pet businesses … Course is only one hour and can be taken anytime on your home computer.” (24)
Offering online courses that require hands-on training and experience is potentially dangerous for the animal. It is also potentially dangerous for the handler of the animal because some animals may be nervous or aggressive. (25)
Q. What types of animals have been implanted with microchips?
A. Microchips have been marketed and sold for use in dogs, cats, horses, fish, ferrets, alpacas, llamas, livestock, laboratory animals, zoo animals, birds, turtles, reptiles, elephants and many other animals.
Q. How is a microchip implanted in an animal?
A. The chip is implanted by using an insertion device that contains a needle that is larger than those used for regular injections. In general, animals such as dogs, cats and horses are not sedated for the procedure. However, mild sedation or a local anaesthetic may be necessary for some animals.
For some species of animals the microchipping procedure is more complex. For example, birds require tissue glue and digital pressure or a suture to seal the site of implantation. (26)
Q. Where is the chip usually implanted in an animal?
A. The bodily location of the microchip implant varies depending on the type of animal. In addition, different parts of the world may use different implant sites for the same type of animal.
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), two implant sites are recognized in dogs and cats: The chip is implanted subcutaneously on the dorsal midline, cranial to the shoulder blades or scapula. Or, the chip is implanted subcutaneously in the midway region of the left side of the neck. (27)
The WSAVA says there are two recognized implant sites in horses: The chip is generally implanted in the nuchal ligament of the neck in the middle third or halfway point between the ears and the withers. In Australia, the recommended implant site is in the musculature of the left neck or anterior injection triangle. “Clipping of the hair, local anaesthetic and aseptic technique is required,” writes the WSAVA. (28)
Amphibians are implanted in the lymphatic cavity and the site should be sealed with tissue glue. Snakes are implanted subcutaneously on the left side of the neck, approximately twice the length of the head from the tip of the nose. (29)
Chelonians (turtles and tortoises) are implanted in the left hind limb socket. The WSAVA recommends using a subcutaneous site in small chelonians, and an intramuscular technique in large species as well as in small species that have thin skin. Tissue glue should be used to seal the implant site. (30)
Fore more details regarding microchip implant sites, please refer to the information provided by the appropriate agency in the country in which your animal lives. Also refer to the data provided by the WSAVA. (31)
NOTE: Varying sites of implantation is one of the reasons that microchips are not detected by readers. Dr. Hannis Stoddard of American Veterinary Identification Devices (AVID microchips) says:
“Even in a perfect world where all technologies past, present and future were compatible, U.S. pets going to Europe and European pets coming to the U.S. could still risk being classified as 'not identified' because of the different implant sites.” (32)
Q. What is the lifespan of a microchip implant?
A. According to promotional information, the microchip implant lasts the lifetime of the animal. However, it is an extremely vague answer, particularly since microchips are implanted in animals that have a relatively long lifespan.
Human microchip implant data also fails to provide a precise answer. In 2004, Angela Fulcher, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for VeriChip Corporation (currently known as PositiveID Corporation), said, “We believe the tags [microchip implants] can last 20 years.” (33) However, other reports indicate that the average lifespan of a microchip implant is 10 to 15 years. (34)
As there is no definitive answer regarding the longevity of a microchip implant, it remains to be seen if the device lasts the lifetime of animals, such as horses, elephants, turtles or parrots, which have an average lifespan greater than twenty years.
NOTE: The question regarding the lifespan of an implantable microchip leads to other important questions that must be answered by the microchip industry, veterinary community, pharmaceutical companies that sell microchips, and organizations that enact mandatory microchipping legislation. For example:
Q. Can a microchip implant help to locate a lost or stolen pet?
- What happens when a microchip implant no longer works, or a more sophisticated one is available?
- Is the faulty or obsolete device left in the body and replaced with another implant?
- Do the components of the microchip deteriorate or alter over time? If so, what effect will this have on the animal?
- Is it safe to leave the failed or even functional microchip in the body indefinitely, or should it be removed surgically?
- Is the new microchip implant reprogrammed with the old identification number, or is a new number assigned?
- Who pays for the replacement and/or removal of the implant?
A. Microchip implants currently on the market do not have GPS (Global Positioning System) capability to locate a missing pet. So, if your pet is lost or stolen, a satellite cannot locate your pet via the microchip implant.
If, however, implantable GPS devices were available for pets, these implants would be expensive, large, and could even require an external antenna that protrudes out of the animal’s body. (35)
Q. Under what circumstances can a microchip help to reunite a missing pet with its owner?
A. A microchip implant may help you recover your pet if he or she is taken to an animal shelter or a veterinarian's office. When shelter or veterinary staff members find a stray animal, they first check if the animal is wearing a collar with current identification. If the animal is not wearing a collar with current identification, workers are supposed to thoroughly scan the animal’s body with a compatible microchip scanner. If the pet has been chipped, the implant is supposed to emit a number that can be looked up in the appropriate database in order to identify the animal and contact the owner.
However, even if a lost or stolen microchipped animal is brought to a shelter or vet’s office, the chip can only help to reunite the animal with the owner if all of the following conditions are met:
Also, even if all of the aforementioned conditions are met, cases in the UK reveal that microchip implants are not proof of ownership. Therefore, even if your lost or stolen microchipped pet is found, it is possible that he or she may not be returned to you.
- The animal is scanned for a microchip implant.
- The microchip is working and has not been expelled from the animal’s body.
- The scanner is able to locate and accurately read the microchip implant.
- The microchip number and current contact data are accurately recorded in the appropriate database.
- The database is accessible.
Q. If my pet is found, does the microchip guarantee proof of ownership?
A. Not necessarily. In the 2010 news report entitled “Dog-Owner Prevented From Finding Microchipped Pet Under Data Protection Act,” Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club (UK), says the microchip implant does not provide proof of ownership. (38) Therefore, even if you are able to locate your stolen or lost, microchipped pet, there is no guarantee that your animal will be returned to you.
Also, the 2010 news report entitled “Police Find Nine-Year Old Girl’s Stolen Pet Puppy … But Say She Can’t Have It Back,” says that after locating their stolen Chinese Shar Pei puppy named Millie, the Stewart family was told that they could not have Millie back (even though the microchip was registered to the Stewart’s) because the new owner bought the puppy in good faith. (39)
Q. Is a microchip implant a permanent form of identification?
A. Microchips are promoted as a permanent form of identification. However, sometimes microchips stop working, are expelled from the body, are lost within the body, are incorrectly read by the scanner, or are unreadable by the scanner. Also, even if a microchip is working, it cannot identify the animal unless the microchip number and current contact information of the owner are accurately recorded in the appropriate database.
For pet owners who rely on a microchip implant to identify their pet when traveling to countries that require the use of an implantable microchip, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) warns:
“[M]icrochips can fail. This has particular implications for those travelling abroad with their pet, as microchip failure can lead to an animal being unable to travel.” (40-41)
Also, as stated by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, “[I]t is a fact that a transponder can fail.” (42) Therefore, a microchip implant is not necessarily a permanent form of identification and should not be advertised as such.
Q. How do I know if my pet’s chip is working?
A. A microchip implant is not a visible form of identification. Therefore, the only way to know if it is working is to have it scanned with a compatible working scanner. However, even if a microchip is working one day, it can fail thereafter.
Q. Can microchip scanners read all microchip implants?
A. For a variety of reasons, microchip scanners cannot accurately read any of the microchip implants 100% of the time. Sometimes a microchip scanner cannot even read its own microchip implant. (43)
Although the majority of people assume that a “universal” scanner can read all microchip implants, universal scanners cannot detect or read all microchips all of the time. In the study entitled “Sensitivity of Commercial Scanners to Microchips of Various Frequencies Implanted in Dogs and Cats,” which was published in 2008 in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA)
, Linda K. Lord and colleagues write:
“The 3 universal scanners capable of reading or detecting 128- and 134.2-kHz microchips all had sensitivities ≥ 94.8% for microchips of these frequencies. Three of the 4 scanners had sensitivities ≥ 88.2% for 125-kHz microchips, but sensitivity of one of the universal scanners for microchips of this frequency was lower (66.4% to 75.0%).” (44)
They also write:
“There are concerns, however, that universal scanners may not be sufficiently sensitive to detect all microchips.” (45)
NOTE: The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) warns of an important limitation associated with microchip scanners. It says:
“Readers [microchip scanners] emit and receive electromagnetic energy and therefore can be affected by other electronic equipment or metallic objects. In this regard, shelters and veterinary clinics can be regarded as ‘hostile environments’ due to the presence of computer terminals, fluorescent lights and stainless steel tables to mention a few. Try to maintain a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from electronic equipment. Ideally, one should not scan on stainless steel tables and remember to remove metal collars from the animal prior to scanning. (46)
Q. I’ve heard that microchip companies sell microchips and scanners that are not compatible with competing microchip-scanner technologies. Is this true?
A. Yes. In order to protect their patents and market share, microchip companies are known to sell microchips and scanners that are incompatible with competing microchip-scanner technologies. This means that a scanner may not be able to read a competitor’s microchip implant.
As a result of incompatible microchip-scanner technologies, microchipped pets have been euthanized at animal shelters
Q. Have microchip companies been sued for misleading or false advertising?
A. Microchip companies have sued their competitors for misleading and false advertising. For example, in the 2006 article entitled “Jury Awards $6 Million Plus in Avid Pet Microchip Trial,” it says that American Veterinary Identification Devices (AVID) was awarded more than $6 million in a lawsuit against European-based Datamars SA and its wholly owned US subsidiary, Crystal Import Corporation. The jury found that Datamars and Crystal infringed on AVID’s patents and made false advertising claims regarding the effectiveness of their microchip implants to locate and reunite lost animals with their owners. (48) The news report says:
“Avid claimed that statements made by Datamars and Crystal in advertising their products were false and harmful to consumers, and Avid sought damages under the Lanham Act. Datamars and Crystal made several false claims in promotional materials including, 'if your pet becomes lost, any animal care facility can scan your pet,' despite that the majority of scanners in use in shelters in the U.S. were unable to read the Datamars microchips.” (49)
The same report also says:
“Last year, a Superior Court in San Diego, California, stopped Banfield, the Pet Hospital from selling the same ISO microchips due to ‘the risk of great, irreparable harm for which legal remedies are inadequate, specifically the increased potential for pets to be euthanized while their owners believe them to be safe.’” (50)
Juanita Brooks, lead trial counsel for AVID says:
“Pets are an important part of most American families and pet owners must be protected against false advertising particularly when their pets’ lives are put at risk.” (51)
While it is essential that companies are held accountable for false advertising and incompatible microchip-scanner technologies, the irony is that microchip companies are suing each other. Instead, pet owners should be filing lawsuits because of false microchip advertising and incompatible microchip-scanner technologies.
For more information regarding lawsuits that pertain to “UNSUBSTANTIATED, MISLEADING AND INCORRECT” microchip advertising, please review the following references in brackets. (52-53)
For more information regarding incompatible microchip-scanner technologies, please read the three part series, “The Microchip Wars and How They Affect Your Pets’ Safety,” by Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD. (54-56)
Q. Why don’t veterinarians and animal shelters have scanners that can read all microchip implants?
A. Due to the cost of microchip scanners and the time required to scan each animal with multiple scanners, veterinary clinics and animal shelters usually do not have multiple scanners to read different microchip frequencies:
“[It] has been found that 61.4% of shelter operators will not use two scanners because of the lack of staffing or funding required to double scan animals,” says Dr. Hannis Stoddard of AVID microchips. (57)
Also, although clinics and shelters may have a “universal” scanner, it cannot detect or read all microchips all of the time. For more information, please see the question: “Can microchip scanners read all microchip implants?
Q. Why aren’t microchip companies required to ensure that all microchip implants are readable by all microchip scanners?
A. Microchips are not regulated in the US. As a result, microchip companies are allowed to sell microchip-scanner technologies that are incompatible with competing technologies.
The article entitled “USDA: No Authority to Regulate Pet Microchips,” which appeared in JAVMA News (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association)
in October 2007, says:
“More than two years after Congress directed the Department of Agriculture to weigh in on the debate over incompatible pet microchip technology, the USDA has determined it lacks the regulatory authority to mandate a national standard for microchips or microchip scanners for privately owned pets.” (58)
The JAVMA article also says:
“The federal Animal Welfare Act does not grant the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service power to mandate standardization for pet microchips or the scanners that read them.” (59)
In spite of the lack of regulation that allows companies to sell microchips and scanners that are not compatible with those of their competitors, the same JAVMA article says:
“One result of its inquiry is that the USDA plans on making microchips an acceptable form of identification for animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.” (60)
Q. What happens if the scanner cannot detect my pet’s microchip implant?
A. If your pet is lost and his microchip implant cannot be detected by the scanning device, it is possible that your pet will be euthanized, re-homed, or sent to a research facility.
One of the most well-known tragedies that resulted because a scanner could not detect a lost pet’s microchip implant, is the death of Hadden. The 8-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier was euthanized at the Stafford County Animal Shelter in Virginia after the scanner could not detect his chip. Lisa Massey, Hadden’s owner, says:
"They just explained that they were very sorry; that they were beside themselves; that they couldn't understand how, in fact, this happened; that they had scanned Hadden twice and nothing registered." (61)
Q. Is it possible for the scanner to display an incorrect identification number?
A. Yes. In the study entitled “Sensitivity of Commercial Scanners to Microchips of Various Frequencies Implanted in Dogs and Cats,” it says there were cases in which “the wrong microchip number was displayed on the scanner during scanning.” (62)
Q. Is it possible for a microchip implant to be lost once it is implanted in an animal’s body?
A. Although implantable microchips are promoted as a permanent form of identification that is supposed to be superior to other methods of animal identification (such as an identification collar, tattoo or brand), a microchip implant can be expelled from the body. It can also migrate from the original implant site and become lost within the body. As a result, the animal cannot be identified by his or her microchip implant.
Side-note: An Atlanta fire-fighter named John Centola had a microchip implanted in his arm for identification purposes. However, within days of receiving the microchip implant, it fell out. Mr. Centola decided not to have another one implanted. (63)
Q. Are microchip implant identification numbers unique?
A. Microchip numbers can be duplicated. As a result, it is possible that more than one animal can have the same identification number. (64-67) Also, as microchips are being sold via the Internet, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to identify the source of the chip or whether another microchip has the same identification number.
Rachel Crowe, BSc, PhD, ACIM, of Virbac Ltd UK, reveals another reason why there may be confusion with microchip identification numbers, not to mention that the burden of the potential failure of the chip to identify an animal usually falls on the owner instead of the microchip company. Crowe writes:
“Virbac has become aware of a potential problem regarding some microchips, prefixed 978, being sold in the UK, which are not logged on the Virbac BackHome database.
Q. Do those who support and promote microchipping know that microchip numbers can be duplicated?
These are not BackHome microchips. The prefix number 978 refers to the manufacturer of the microchips, rather than to Virbac as such. As this manufacturer also provides these microchips to a distributor other than Virbac, some microchips that bear the prefix number 978 on the UK market, cannot, therefore, necessarily be considered as having been distributed by Virbac … Therefore, Virbac cannot be liable for these other microchips, even if they start with the prefix 978.” (68-69)
A. Although the majority of pet owners do not know that their pet could have the same identifying microchip number as another animal, industry leaders are fully aware that the numbers can be duplicated. However, they have chosen to ignore this problem. For example, Barbara Masin of Electronic Identification Devices, Ltd. (EID) and distributor of Trovan microchips says:
“I went to the USDA listening sessions and offered to show them the problem with duplication possibilities, but they didn’t want to see it. The situation is very political. There are certain people involved within the USDA who have very close ties to certain manufacturers. There is an underlying agenda, unfortunately, and this is not for the good of the country.” (70)
, Chairman of the Microchip Advisory Group and former Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust in the UK, also admits that microchip implant numbers can be duplicated. (71) Nevertheless, Mr. Laurence supports mandatory animal chipping legislation.
Q. Can microchip implants and insertion devices be purchased via the Internet?
A. Yes. However, purchasing microchip implants and insertion devices via the Internet is potentially dangerous because it may be difficult, if not impossible, to determine the origin or quality of the products. Knowing whether or not the products are sterile is another serious concern.
Also, because microchip implant kits are available online, individuals without training can buy and implant microchips in animals, which poses a health risk to the animals concerned. (72)
Q. Why do some animals have two microchip implants?
A. There are several reasons why an animal may have two microchip implants. For example, someone may implant a microchip in an animal without checking the animal for an existing chip, or the scanner used to determine if the animal is already chipped did not detect the chip. As a result, a second microchip is implanted in the animal. Also, because some countries require a microchip implant of a specific frequency, some animals have been intentionally chipped with an ISO and a non-ISO chip.
Q. How secure is my data once it is registered in a microchip database?
A. Pet owners are told that their personal data is “protected” and “safe.” However, as computer hackers are able to access classified information from sophisticated government databases, they can probably access your information from a microchip database.
Q. Can microchips and databases be infected with computer viruses and worms?
A. In 2006, researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands warned that “a completely different category of threats arises when hackers or criminals cause valid RFID tags to behave in unexpected (and generally malicious) ways.” (73) They write:
“Up until now, everyone working on RFID technology has tacitly assumed that the mere act of scanning an RFID tag cannot modify back-end software, and certainly not in a malicious way. Unfortunately, they are wrong. In our research, we have discovered that if certain vulnerabilities exist in the RFID software, an RFID tag can be (intentionally) infected with a virus and this virus can infect the backend database used by the RFID software. From there it can be easily spread to other RFID tags.” (74)
In the same paper, the researchers use an example of how a cat’s microchip implant could be infected with a computer virus, which could infect the database of the veterinarian or the database of whomever scans the cat. They write:
“Unlike a biological virus, which jumps from animal to animal, an RFID virus spread this way jumps from animal to database to animal. The same transmission mechanism that applies to pets also applies to RFID-tagged livestock.” (75-76)
In 2009, Dr. Mark N. Gasson of the University of Reading in the UK conducted an experiment on himself to show how a human microchip implant
could be infected with a computer virus. (77) Dr. Gasson writes:
“The result is that the virus is copied into the new profile field for all tags, and so any tag subsequently using the system will likely become overwritten and infected. A feature of a computer virus is that it must have the ability to self-replicate, and this is evident here. Having corrupted the database contents in such a way to allow replication, there is a further ‘payload’ (some additional malicious activity) associated with the virus.” (78)
Q. Do the benefits of microchip implants outweigh the risks?
A. The answer depends on one’s perspective:
Those who manufacture, promote, sell, and/or implant microchips say the benefits of the technology outweigh the risks. However, these individuals and corporations have a vested interest in the success of microchipping. They may also be unaware of the risks associated with chipping, and believe that the implants offer a failsafe way of identifying animals.
Pet owners whose animals have experienced adverse microchip reactions do not believe that the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks. In addition, individuals who do not have a vested interest in the success of microchipping and who have carefully examined the problems associated with microchipping, do not believe that the benefits of chipping outweigh the risks.
Q. Why should the general public be concerned about animal microchipping?
A. Microchipping animals psychologically prepares people to accept and embrace the use of microchip implants for humans.
For some people this latter statement may seem like a bizarre concept from a science fiction movie. However, in October 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of microchip implants in humans for medical purposes. When microchips are marketed for non-medical purposes – such as security, financial or personal identification reasons – the microtransponder system does not require FDA approval. (79-81)
American firemen, Mexican officials, Alzheimer patients, diabetics, bar patrons, employees and others have already been “chipped.” (82-94) In addition, many companies have patents for tracking humans. (95-98)
Scott R. Silverman (Chairman and CEO of VeriTeQ Corporation, former Chairman and CEO of both PositiveID Corporation and VeriChip Corporation, and former CEO and Acting President of Digital Angel Corporation) predicts that microchipping “will work into our culture and our lives. It will almost take on a life of its own.” (99-103) In a Fox News television interview he also says:
“We are working on a product that we have called internally a PLD. PLD stands for personal locating device, which is an implantable GPS for which our company owns a patent and can be implanted surgically in the clavicle area of a child or someone that you are interested in tracking. It is the first implantable microchip for humans. It has multiple security, financial and health-care applications.” (104)
Tommy G. Thompson (19th Secretary of Health and Human Services – the department that oversees the FDA; 42nd Governor of Wisconsin; 2008 US presidential candidate; and former member of the Board of Directors of VeriChip Corporation) says the human microchip implant “has so many uses.” (105) Mr. Thompson says “it will give an identification number” and “identifies you with a database that has your medical records.” (106) He refers to the technology as “a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans.” (107) He also suggests using the implant “to replace dog tags” currently used by the US armed forces. (108)
Dr. Peter Zhou, chief scientist for development of the microchip implant, says the chip “will be a connection from yourself to the electronic world. It will be your guardian, protector. It will bring good things to you.” (109) He also says microchip implants will enable us to be “a hybrid of electronic intelligence and our own soul.” (110-111)
Also, US Patent #5,629,678, entitled “Personal Tracking and Recovery System,” discusses ways in which an implantable tracking device can by remotely activated. It says:
“The device will remain in a dormant state until activated, either by the person in whom it is implanted, or by remote means.” (112)
Technology that enables activation and control of human implants by someone other than the person in whom it is implanted shows how easy it would be to use microchip implants to manipulate individuals and societies. (113-114)
Also of interest, Proteus Biomedical of the US has designed edible microchips to monitor if and when patients take their medications. Scheduled to be sold in the UK by Lloydspharmacy by the end of this year, Proteus says their product can be “integrated into any pharmaceutical tablet or capsule to allow real-time detection of pill ingestion, thereby helping measure and improve patient adherence to medications and dosing regimens.” (115-117)
Manufactured on silicon, the edible microchips contain copper and magnesium, and are also referred to as “ingestible event markers” or “IEM’s.” When swallowed, they are activated by stomach fluids and create a “digital signal detected by a microelectronic recorder configured as either a small bandage style skin-patch or a tiny device inserted under the skin.” (118-120) “The unique ingestion event and personalized physiologic information are then communicated via Bluetooth to any computerized device,” says Proteus. (121)
Manufactured at “wafer scale” on
silicon, the edible microchips
contain copper and magnesium.
~ Proteus Biomedical
Pills that contain “edible microchips” are
able to monitor if and when patients take
~ Proteus Biomedical
Although Andrew M. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of Proteus, says, “[T]he single-most important thing that I worry about is that we do nothing that harms a patient,” designing medications that can broadcast personal information about patients raises concerns about data privacy. (122-123) Also, although Mr. Thompson says their product is “safe,” made from “ingredients that are found commonly in the food supply,” and “can be formulated into any dosage form without changing the properties or performance of a drug,” ingesting copper on a regular basis, even in small doses, could create an imbalance of essential vitamins and minerals in the body.` (124-125) It could also create an excessive build-up of copper that could become toxic, leading to tissue injury and disease. (126) These health concerns could be exacerbated for people who are sick and take a lot of medication.
Mr. Thompson, estimates that edible microchips will create a $100-billion industry. (127) However, while microchipped pills may be able to monitor a patient’s compliance to a prescribed medical regimen, it does not mean that patients will remember to take the pills, or change the skin-patch at the appropriate time. Instead, it means that corporations and governments have another powerful tool that can be used to monitor our behaviour, and exert more control over our bodies and our lives.
Also worth noting, in 2010, the scientific document entitled “A Novel Embryo Identification System by Direct Tagging of Mouse Embryos Using Silicon-Based Barcodes” was published on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. (128-129) In the document, researchers in Spain describe how they have developed an identification system that allows the use of silicon barcodes to label mouse embryos. The system could eventually be used to label human embryos. The researchers write:
“In summary, the results presented here demonstrate the feasibility of a direct embryo labeling system and constitute the starting point in the development of such systems. Even though pronuclear embryos were used in the experiments reported here, the same barcode-based labeling approach could also be applied to embryos at later developmental stages and to oocytes [egg cells].” (130)
Development of this latter type of identification system means that it will be possible to tag humans before they are born.
The general public should also be aware that the potential to misuse RFID-based identification systems has been discussed in government reports. For example, the draft report entitled “The Use of RFID for Human Identification” from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Emerging Applications and Technology Subcommittee to the Full Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee says, “Some current and contemplated uses of RFID for tracking people may be misguided.” (131) It also says:
“[R]FID appears to offer little benefit when compared to the consequences it brings for privacy and data integrity. Instead, it increases risks to personal privacy and security, with no commensurate benefit for performance or national security … we recommend that RFID be disfavored for identifying and tracking human beings.” (132)
Also, because of the risks associated with human microchipping, some US states have passed laws against mandatory human microchipping. These states include Wisconsin, North Dakota, California, Oklahoma, Georgia and Virginia. (133-150)
To learn more about the use of microchip implants for humans and the potential negative repercussions, please read the sections “Tagged from Cradle to Grave” and “The Holocaust: NEVER AGAIN!” in the document entitled “Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?
Q. What are some of the health risks associated with microchip implants?
A. As stated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
“The potential risks to health associated with the device are: adverse tissue reaction; migration of implanted transponder; compromised information security; failure of implanted transponder; failure of inserter; failure of electronic scanner; electromagnetic interference; electrical hazards; magnetic resonance imaging incompatibility; and needle stick.” (1-3)
Published scientific literature also shows that microchip implants can cause cancer, spinal cord injuries, and death due to the microchip implant procedure
, infections, lumps, bleeding, itching and hair loss have also occurred at the site of the implants. (5-8)
Microchips can also migrate (move) from one bodily location to another. Movement of the implant could pose health risks for the animal in whom it is implanted
Q. Have animals developed cancer because of microchip implants?
A. In the 1990’s, researchers documented several cases of laboratory mice and rats that developed aggressive cancerous growths at the site of their microchip implants. (9) The cases are significant because they offer the first definitive proof that animals were developing cancer because of implantable microchips. For example, researchers from Germany, Spain and Italy co-authored the paper entitled “Subcutaneous Soft Tissue Tumours at the Site of Implanted Microchips in Mice.” It was published in 1997 in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology
. The authors state:
“The neoplasms induced in the present investigation are clearly due to the implanted microchips.” (10)
In 2001, the Bayer Corporation study entitled “Tumors in Long-Term Rat Studies Associated with Microchip Animal Identification Devices” was published in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology
. Researchers in the US write:
“Electronic microchip technology as a means of animal identification may affect animal moribundity and mortality, due to the large size and rapid growth rate of microchip-induced tumors, as well as the occurrence of metastases.” (11)
The authors of this latter scientific document also write:
“The occurrence of tumours due to microchip implantation is not an entirely unexpected finding. According to the literature on foreign-body tumorigenesis, any inert substance inserted into the body for long time periods can produce neoplasia.” (12)
In 2006, the document entitled “Subcutaneous Microchip-Associated Tumours in B6C3F1 Mice: A Retrospective Study to Attempt to Determine their Histogenesis” was published in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology
. Researchers in France write:
“One of the most potentially serious disadvantages of the microchip implantation is the possibility that foreign-body-induced tumours may develop in long-term rodent studies.” (13)
"Subcutaneous Microchip-Associated Tumours in B6C3F1 Mice: A Retrospective Study to Attempt to Determine Their Histogenesis" by Sophie Le Calvez et al., Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology, 2006.
Gross appearance of a microchip-associated tumour. The microchip has been removed from the cavity where it resided in situ (size of microchip 2 x 12 mm).
Scientific documents also reveal that dogs and cats have developed cancerous growths at or adjacent to the site of their microchip implants. For example, in 2004, the paper entitled “Liposarcoma at the Site of an Implanted Microchip in a Dog” was published in The Veterinary Journal
. Researchers Marta Vascellari, Franco Mutinelli, Romina Cossettini and Emanuela Altinier in Italy write:
“Using an image intensifier, the microchip [Indexel, Merial, Lyon, France] was located in the subcutaneous fascia at the base of the mass … This mass appeared to have developed in the subcutis, around the microchip itself, causing bulging of the skin contour.” (14)
In 2006, the scientific document entitled “Fibrosarcoma with Typical Features of Postinjection Sarcoma at Site of Microchip Implant in a Dog: Histologic and Immunohistochemical Study” was published in Veterinary Pathology
. The document was written by Vascellari, Melchiotti and Mutinelli, and examines the case of a 9-year-old French Bulldog that developed “a high-grade infiltrative fibrosarcoma, with multifocal necrosis and peripheral lymphoid aggregates” at the site of his Indexel (Merial, Lyon, France) microchip implant. (15)
In 2008, “Fibrosarcoma Adjacent to the Site of Microchip Implantation in a Cat” was published in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
. Researchers from the US write:
“A 14-year-old spayed female domestic shorthair cat presented with an interscapular mass. A computed tomography scan, biopsy, and histological examination revealed a fibrosarcoma adjacent to a pet identification microchip.” (16)
It is important to mention that the specific bodily locations of the vaccines that were administered to the pets discussed in the three latter cases were not documented. Because vaccines and microchip implants have caused aggressive and lethal cancerous growths to develop in animals, the researchers were not sure if the microchip and/or vaccines caused the cancerous masses to develop in these animals. (17-20) However, in 2011, the scientific document entitled “Microchip-Associated Fibrosarcoma in a Cat” was published in Veterinary Dermatology
. Researchers Carminato, Vascellari, Marchioro, Melchiotti and Mutinelli from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Italy write:
“A nine-year-old, neutered male cat was presented for a subcutaneous mass on the neck. After surgical removal of the mass, a pet identification microchip [Indexel, Merial, Lyon, France] was found within the tumour. Histological examination of the mass revealed typical features of the feline postinjection sarcoma. The cat had never received vaccinations at the tumour site; all routine vaccinations were administered in the hindlimbs.” (21)
This latter document is significant because it indicates that the tumour was not caused by vaccines; it indicates that the tumour was caused by the microchip that was embedded within the cancerous mass.
In 2009, Leah K. Schutt of the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, was the recipient of the ACVP/AAVLD Diagnostic Travel Award for the scientific paper entitled “Microchip-Associated Soft Tissue Sarcoma and Massive Multiorgan Extramedulary Hematopoiesis in a House Musk Shrew (Suncus Murinus).” (23) In 2010, the full document was published in Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
and is entitled “Microchip-Associated Sarcoma in a Shrew (Suncus Murinus).” It says:
“A 16-mo-old female house musk shrew (Suncus murinus) with a 1-wk history of a rapidly growing subcutaneous mass in the interscapsular region was euthanized and submitted for necropsy. Macroscopic examination identified an irregular, well-demarcated, solid, tan-white subcutaneous mass. A small cavity containing a microchip device was present at the center of the mass.” (24)
Published scientific documents also show that Damaraland mole-rats, small zoo animals, an Egyptian fruit bat, and a marmoset have developed microchip-associated cancerous growths. (25)
Q. Why do some people – including veterinarians – say that it is an “Internet urban legend” that implantable microchips can cause cancer?
A. In spite of published scientific literature that proves that microchip implants can cause cancer, some people still claim that the microchip-cancer risk is an “Internet urban legend.” For example, in the April 14, 2010 article entitled “‘Chipping’ Your Pet Painless, Worthwhile,” Dr. Ellen Friedman, DVM writes:
“There have been concerns about the implanted chip causing problems; various Internet ‘urban legends’ have tried to link microchips and a rare form of cancer. To date, we are not aware of any scientific data confirming this. In our opinion, the risk is negligible to nonexistent.” (26)
Dr. Friedman’s comments indicate that even people in the veterinary community are still not aware of scientific documents that prove that animals have developed aggressive and lethal cancerous growths because of microchip implants. Instead of thoroughly researching the topic for themselves, some people choose to regurgitate the sales pitch offered by the microchip industry and dismiss the microchip-cancer risk. In other cases, there are people who are fully aware of the scientific microchip-cancer data. However, because they have a vested interest in the success of microchip implant technology, they intentionally lie to pet owners, veterinarians, policy-makers, the media and the public by saying that the microchip-cancer risk is an “Internet urban legend.”
Q. I’ve heard that the rodents that developed cancer from their microchips were bred to develop cancer. Is this true or false?
A. False. In addition to saying that the microchip-cancer risk is an “Internet urban legend,” some people who promote microchips say that the rodents that developed cancer from the implants were bred to develop the disease. However, researchers who examined the animals state otherwise. For example, in the study entitled “Transponder-Induced Sarcoma in the Heterozygous p53+/- Mouse,” the authors write:
“[M]asses (undifferentiated sarcomas) were observed arising at the site of transponder implantation … Because p53+/- mice are ostensibly insensitive to non-genotoxic proliferative agents, the observation of transponder site sarcomas in 18/177 (10%) of the animals studied was surprising.” (27)
The authors of this latter study also write:
“[T]he presence of the foreign body may elicit tissue reactions capable of generating genotoxic byproducts.” (28)
Q. I’ve heard that the rodents that developed cancer from their microchips were exposed to cancer-causing agents. Is this true or false?
A. False. In the study entitled “Subcutaneous Soft Tissue Tumours at the Site of Implanted Microchips in Mice,” T. Tillman and colleagues state, “The neoplasms induced in the present investigation are clearly due to the implanted microchips.” (29)
In the study entitled “Fibrosarcomas Associated with Passive Integrated Transponder Implants,” T. E. Palmer and colleagues state, “The tumors associated with the implants were found in control and treated animals and were considered unrelated to the test material.” (30)
In the study entitled “Transponder-Induced Sarcoma in the Heterozygous p53+/- Mouse,” Kerry T. Blanchard and colleagues state, “These masses were not related to test substance administration… .” (31)
Also, in an interview in 2007 with Todd Lewan (AP reporter and author of “Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors”), Keith A. Johnson, author of the study entitled “Foreign-Body Tumorigenesis: Sarcomas Induced in Mice by Subcutaneously Implanted Transponders,” states, “The transponders were the cause of the tumors.” (32-33)
Q. Where did the tumours start to develop in the animals?
A. Scientific documents reveal that the cancerous growths developed at or adjacent to the site of the microchip implants.
In addition, researchers observed that sometimes the cancerous growths began to form at the location of the anti-migrational sheath that covers part of the implant. For example, in the study entitled “Transponder-Induced Sarcoma in the Heterozygous p53+/- Mouse,” the authors write:
“Mass development is apparent in association with the polypropylene extremity and was often observed to begin at the glass-polypropylene interface.” (34)
Q. Can the cancer metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body?
A. Yes. As stated in the scientific document entitled “Tumors in Long-Term Rat Studies Associated with Microchip Animal Identification Devices”:
“Although animal morbundity and mortality were attributed partially to tumor size in several animals, an additional contributing factor consisted of occasional metastases … Metastatic sites included the lungs, thymus, epicardium of the heart, mediastinal lymph nodes, and the musculature of the right foreleg.” (35)
Also, in the scientific document entitled “Subcutaneous Microchip-Associated Tumours in B6C3F1 Mice: A Retrospective Study to Attempt to Determine Their Histogenesis,” it says:
“Microscopic metastases were detected in four mice: two had metastases in the lungs only; one in the lungs and liver and another in the wall of the stomach and in the pancreas.” (36)
Q. How aggressive are the cancerous growths?
A. The cancerous growths can be extremely aggressive, and even lethal. For example, in the study entitled “Tumors in Long-Term Rat Studies Associated with Microchip Animal Identification Devices,” Laura E. Elcock and colleagues write:
“Some masses were extremely fast-growing, enlarging as much as 1 cm per week. As a result, the size of the masses often necessitated early sacrifice [euthanasia] of the animal.” (37)
In the study entitled “Fibrosarcomas Associated with Passive Integrated Transponder Implants,” T. E. Palmer and colleagues write:
“Some masses became large enough to inhibit the animal’s access to its feed jar.” (38)
In the study “Subcutaneous Microchip-Associated Tumours in B6C3F1 Mice: A Retrospective Study to Attempt to Determine Their Histogenesis,” Sophie Le Calvez and colleagues write:
“Most of the animals (33/52 = 65.4%) with microchip-associated tumours died prematurely; 28/33 were sacrificed for ethical reasons due to the size of the masses, and in 5/33 cases the deaths were spontaneous and attributed to the masses.” (39)
The authors of this latter paper also write:
“Desmin staining also confirmed the infiltration of the panniculus muscle in many tumours and the extensive cavernous network of capillaries within the tumour, especially around the hole left by the microchip.” (40)
Also, in the study entitled “Microchip-Associated Sarcoma in a Shrew (Suncus Murinus),” L. K. Schutt and P. V. Turner write:
“One week prior to presentation, a lump was noted in the interscapular region of the shrew. Because of the rapidly growing nature of the mass and its potential to interfere with the animal’s mobility, the shrew was euthanized and submitted for necropsy.” (41)
Q. What are some of the proposed reasons that implantable microchips can cause cancer?
A. Some of the proposed reasons that implantable microchips can cause cancer are:
“(1) Foreign-Body Tumorigenesis: The presence of the microchip, a subcutaneous foreign body, may cause cellular changes that can lead to cancer.
Q. Is it possible for researchers to misinterpret study results because of microchip-induced tumours?
(2) Post-Injection Sarcoma: Inflammation from the chip-injection procedure may cause cellular changes that can lead to cancer.
(3) Possible Genotoxic Properties of the Implant: The glass capsule or polypropylene sheath surrounding it may have carcinogenic or genotoxic properties, or its presence within the host may give rise to genotoxic byproducts.
(4) Radio-Frequency Energy Emissions from the Transponder or Reader: The radio-frequency energy involved with the transponder may somehow contribute to tumor formation.” (42)
A. In the Dow Chemical study entitled “Foreign-Body Tumorigenesis: Sarcomas Induced in Mice by Subcutaneously Implanted Transponders,” Keith A. Johnson warns that microchip-induced tumours could affect study results. He writes:
“Investigators using similar types of implanted devices need be aware of foreign-body tumorigenesis when evaluating the results of longterm studies using mice.” (43)
In “Microchip-Associated Tumour in a C57/BL Mouse,” the authors state:
“Researchers/pathologists must be aware of foreign body tumorigenesis (microchip-induced neoplasms) possibly complicating the interpretation of data from carcinogenicity studies.” (44)
And in “Tumors in Long-Term Rat Studies Associated with Microchip Animal Identification Devices,” researchers for Bayer Corporation in the US write:
“[T]umors due to microchip implantation have been documented in long-term rat studies, and may be a complicating factor in the interpretation of carcinogenicity data.” (45)
Q. Have animals experienced spinal cord injuries or nerve damage because of microchip implants?
A. Yes. For example, in 2007, the scientific document entitled “Spinal Cord Injury Resulting from Incorrect Microchip Placement in a Cat” was published in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
. Simon Platt and colleagues write:
“A 2-year-old, male neutered domestic shorthair cat was presented for investigation of an acute onset of tetraparesis immediately following the implantation of a pet identification microchip. A left-sided C6-T2 spinal segment localisation was suspected from the neurological examination, with spinal cord trauma being the primary differential diagnosis. Myelography demonstrated obliteration of the contrast columns by the microchip at the C5-C6 intervertebral disc space.” (46)
In 2009, “Surgical Removal of a Microchip from a Puppy’s Spinal Canal” was published in Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology
. T. J. Smith and N. Fitzpatrick write:
“A 1.6 kg, six-week-old Tibetan Terrier was admitted with a 12-hours history of acute onset of progressive tetraparesis following insertion of a microchip to the dorsal cervical region. Neurological examination indicated a lesion to the Ce(1) to Ce(5) spinal cord segments. Radiographic examination confirmed the intra-spinal location of a microchip foreign body at the level of the second cervical vertebra.” (47)
In 2010, “Delayed Spinal Cord Injury Following Microchip Placement in a Dog” was published in Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology
. S. K. Joslyn and colleagues write:
“A three-year-old female, entire Yorkshire Terrier dog was examined because it had progressive non-weight-bearing left forelimb lameness and tetraparesis of two weeks duration … Computed tomography identified the exact location of the foreign body [microchip] encroaching on the left dorsolateral vertebral canal, and osteolysis of the lamina of the sixth cervical vertebra.” (48)
Also, in 2005, veterinarians E. G. A. Laarakker, C. Wilekens, M. Kelfkens and F. Kokke in The Netherlands documented a case of a horse that experienced nerve damage because of the microchip implant. In the report the veterinarians also write, ‘All vets in our clinic share the opinion that chipping horses is anything but safe.’ (49)
Q. Have animals died because of the microchip implant procedure?
A. Yes. The “Microchip Report 2004” by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), states:
“The most disastrous report received during 2004 concerned an attempt to implant a struggling kitten resulting in sudden death. During the post mortem examination the microchip was found in the brainstem.” (50)
In 2007, The Veterinary Record
published the document “Microchip Insertion in Alpacas.” Authors G. van der Burgt and M. Dowle write:
“A 6-month-old alpaca in the UK was implanted with a microchip behind the left ear in the upper part of the neck at a 90 degrees angle to the skin. The alpaca collapsed and died within 5 min of insertion of the microchip. Postmortem examination showed that the microchip was located in the spinal cord between C2 and C3 vertebrae. The resulting neurogenic shock was thought to be the cause of death.” (51)
Also, in 2009, a young Chihuahua named Charlie Brown bled to death within hours of receiving a microchip implant that was required by law in Los Angeles County, California, USA. Dr. Reid Loken, the veterinarian who performed the procedure, cited “an extreme amount of bleeding” from the “little hole in the skin where the [microchip implant] needle went in” as the cause of death. (52)
Q. Where can I find scientific data that supports the statement: “Microchip implants can cause cancer, spinal cord injuries, and death due to the microchip implant procedure”?
A. Peer-reviewed studies have been published in a variety of scientific journals. Many of the documents can be accessed via www.noble-leon.com
Q. Why do those promoting microchips say the implants are safe even though published scientific documents prove that animals have not only experienced serious adverse reactions but also died because of microchipping?
A. A considerable amount of money can be made from the sale of microchip implants, scanning devices, the microchip implant procedure, registration fees and data mining. If pet owners knew that there were so many serious problems associated with microchipping, they would not allow their animals to be chipped. Therefore, in order to sell microchip implants, those promoting the technology must maintain the illusion that microchip implants are safe.
Q. Is it potentially dangerous if a microchip moves from the original site of implantation?
A. Microchip implants can move significantly from the original implant site. This unwanted movement could be painful and pose health problems for an animal.
Pet owners should be aware that adverse microchip reports compiled by the BSAVA indicate that “migration remains the commonest problem with the elbow and shoulder being the favourite locations of wayward microchips” in pets. (54)
Also, researchers in France noted that microchips implanted in mice migrated from the original implant site to the limbs, abdominal region and dorsal head. (55)
Movement of a chip from one bodily location to another could also make it difficult, if not impossible, to locate the implant and to identify the animal.
Q. Why should vaccines and other injections not be given at or near the site of a microchip implant?
A. Injections should not be given at the site of a microchip implant because it is possible to unintentionally hit the microchip and/or disturb the tissue that has formed around it.
In the document entitled “Microchip-Associated Fibrosarcoma in a Cat,” researchers from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Italy advise against giving vaccines at the site of microchip implants because it would help to prevent “micro-environment alterations that could increase the risk of sarcoma development.” (56) More specifically, both dogs and cats are known to be at risk of vaccine-induced sarcomas, and microchips can elevate the risk of cancer at the microchip site. (57-59) It is not logical to double-up on the cancer risk by vaccinating and microchipping in the same bodily location.
The authors of “Microchip-Associated Fibrosarcoma in a Cat” also note that if vaccines are not given at or near the site of microchip implants, researchers will be able “to determine the aetiology of tumours more easily.” (60) In other words, researchers will be able to more accurately determine if the microchip, or the product injected near the microchip, caused the adverse reaction. Also, in order to effectively treat and accurately report an adverse reaction, it is important to know why the reaction occurred.
Q. What are some of the potential health risks for a microchipped animal that undergoes Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) diagnostics?
A. The FDA lists “MRI incompatibility” as a potential health risk associated with microchip implants. As stated in the FDA’s “A Primer on Medical Device Interactions with Magnetic Resonance Imaging Systems,” potential adverse effects associated with implant devices in the MRI environment include, but are not limited to: “Device malfunction or failure,” “tearing of tissues,” “rotation of object in order to align with field,” “acceleration of object into bore of magnet ‘missile effect,’” and “patient burns (thermal and electrical).” (61)
Also, the Japanese study entitled “Evaluation of the Susceptibility Artifacts and Tissue Injury Caused by Implanted Microchips in Dogs on 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” warns that a microchip implant can impede diagnostic use of MRI. Miyoko Saito and colleagues write:
“There was significant signal loss and image distortion over a wide range around the area where the microchip was implanted. This change was consistent with susceptibility artifacts which rendered the affected area including the spinal cord undiagnostic.” (62)
The same study also says:
"The artifact produced by microchips implanted under the skin of the dorsal part of the cervicothoracic junction may cause difficulty in interpretation of MRI in this region, which includes the cervical to cranial thoracic spinal cord. The image of the brain may also be affected when the animal is small in size.” (63)
NOTE: For more information regarding potential microchip-MRI incompatibility issues, please see the section “Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Incompatibility with Microchip Implant Technology” in the document entitled “Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?
Q. Is it safe to use acupuncture needles, therapeutic magnets, laser therapy or light emitting diode (LED) treatments at or near the site of a microchip implant?
A. Similar to vaccines and other injections, acupuncture needles should not be used at or near the site of a microchip implant because it is possible to unintentionally hit the microchip with the needle and/or disturb the tissue that has formed around the implant.
Also, as we do not know the effect that acupuncture needles, magnets, lasers or LED’s may have when used at or near the microchip implant site, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and avoid using these therapeutic treatments at or near the implant site.
Q. Is it safe for an animal to have two or more microchip implants?
A. Although those who promote microchip implants say that it is safe to implant multiple chips in an animal, this procedure places the animal at an even greater risk of experiencing an adverse microchip reaction. Inserting multiple chips in an animal also places an extra financial burden on pet owners who pay for the implantation and registration of multiple chips per animal.
Q. Is it possible for animal microchip implants to enter the human food chain?
||X-ray of a fast-growing hemangiosarcoma in a 5-year-old Bull Mastiff. The arrows point to one microchip within the cancerous mass and another microchip adjacent to the mass. (65)
|Photo of x-ray provided by Howard Gillis,
owner of Seamus.
A. Yes. For example, in 2004, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a “Class I Recall” because pork shoulder butts may have contained microchip implants. As stated in a USDA/FSIS recall release, “The devices were inserted in the shoulders of the animals at a livestock production facility and the animals were inadvertently shipped to slaughter.” (66)
This latter error is significant because the USDA defines a “Class I Recall” as “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.” (67)
Although the USDA categorizes the recall as a “HIGH” health risk, it has been trying to implement a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) which requires implantation of microchips in cattle and other animals used for human consumption. (68-70)
Also, in the article entitled “A Focus on Animal Electronic Identification” (which was published on the USDA’s website), it says that in Australia:
“RFID injectable transponders or subcutaneous implants are not commonly used for livestock identification due to device migrations, rejection, breakage and recovery problems.” (71)
This latter statement and the aforementioned document by the USDA are important because they show that countries are aware that microchip implants can enter the human food chain and cause serious, adverse health consequences for individuals who unintentionally eat the implants.
Q. Are microchip implants being eaten by animals?
A. Yes. For example, birds are eating fish that have been microchipped. Scott Bettin, a freshwater fisheries biologist with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) says, “Caspian terns eat the tagged salmon and then [excrete] them onto their nests.” (72)
The glass, copper and other materials that microchips are made of could be a health risk for birds and other animals that eat microchips. The chips could also be an environmental problem: “These islands glisten with RFID tags,” says Mr. Bettin. (73)
Q. Where can I find more information regarding potential health risks associated with microchip implants?
A. For an in-depth review of potential health risks associated with microchip implants, please see the following sections of the document entitled “Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?
“FDA’s List of Potential Health Risks Associated with Microchip Implants”
Adverse Microchip Reactions
Q. What are potential adverse consequences of microchipping that I should be aware of and report?
“A Closer Examination of the FDA’s List of Potential Health Risks Associated with Microchip Implants: Adverse Tissue Reaction and Migration of Implanted Microchip”
“Failure of Implanted Transponder and Potentially Lethal Implications”
“Failure of Electronic Scanner”
“Electromagnetic Interference with Microchip Implants and Scanning Devices”
“Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Incompatibility with Microchip Implant Technology”
“Microchip Implant Technology May Result in Compromised Information Security”
“More Potential Health Concerns Associated with Microchip Implant System”
“Tagged from Cradle to Grave” (74)
A. Adverse microchip reactions include: Pain, swelling, abscesses, infections, lumps, hair loss, itching, bleeding, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, cancerous growths, and death due to the microchip implant procedure.
Unintended consequences of microchipping that should also be recorded as adverse microchip reactions include: Migration (movement of a chip from one bodily location to another), loss of a microchip within the body, expulsion of a microchip from the body, failure of a microchip, failure of a scanner, failure of an insertion device, inability to detect or read a microchip, and MRI incompatibility issues.
Duplication of a microchip number and the inability to access the appropriate microchip database are also potential adverse consequences of microchipping that pet owners should be aware of and report.
Q. What can pet owners and veterinarians do in order to reduce the risk that an animal might experience an adverse microchip reaction?
A. There are many risks associated with microchipping. So, regardless of the precautionary measures taken to ensure that animals do not experience an adverse microchip reaction, problems can occur.
Still, there are several ways to reduce the risk of experiencing a problem with a microchip implant. For example:
Q. What should I do if my pet experiences an adverse microchip reaction?
- Before implanting a microchip, the animal must be thoroughly scanned to make sure that he or she is not already chipped.
- In order to verify that the chip is working correctly, the chip must be scanned before and after it is implanted in the animal. The identification number should also be verified with the number on the package, and the name of the manufacturer/distributor should be noted.
- In order to minimize the risk of infection, the implant area must be thoroughly cleaned before injecting the chip in the animal. It is a good idea to shave the implant area prior to implanting the device, particularly if an animal has a long or thick coat.
- In order to minimize the chance that an animal moves during implantation of a microchip, the procedure must be done in a calm environment. Animals who are nervous or do not like injections may need a mild sedative.
NOTE: As stated in the “Microchip Implant Manual – Cats/Dogs” by the Microchip Advisory Group (MAG) in the UK:
“It is not recommended to implant a chip while the animal is under sedation or asleep without placing it steadily on its front and with its skin in it’s natural central position, particularly relevant with loose skinned animals. Awake, sitting and gently restrained is best.” (1)
- The implant site should be checked periodically to make sure that an adverse reaction is not occurring in that area. (For example: Swelling, abscess, infection, lump, hair loss, itching or bleeding.) This can be done visually and also by gently feeling the implant area.
- The chip should be scanned periodically to make sure that it is still working and has not moved from the original site of implantation.
- Microchip implants can cause cancer. Microchipping pets that are predisposed to lumps and cancer should be avoided. For more information, please see the question: “Does mandatory chipping legislation apply to animals that are predisposed to cancer?”
- Vaccines and other injections should not be administered at or near the site of a microchip implant. For more information, please see the question: “Why should vaccines and other injections not be given at or near the site of a microchip implant?”
- As there are potential problems associated with using MRI for a chipped animal, it may not be advisable to use this diagnostic tool. If, however, a microchipped animal undergoes MRI, he or she should be carefully monitored and the chip should be re-scanned after the MRI procedure to make sure that it is still working and has not moved from the original site of implantation.
For more details regarding potential MRI-microchip incompatibility issues, please see the question: “What are some of the potential health risks for a microchipped animal that undergoes Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) diagnostics?”
- It is advisable to err on the side of caution and avoid using acupuncture needles, therapeutic magnets, laser therapy and LED’s at or near the site of a microchip implant.
- It is also advisable to err on the side of caution and avoid placing a shock collar or a similar device at or near the site of a microchip implant.
A. Your animal should be immediately taken to a competent veterinarian and thoroughly examined. The medical treatment will depend on the type of adverse microchip reaction that your animal experiences.
Pet owners should also keep accurate documentation of the adverse or suspected adverse microchip reaction, and report it to the appropriate individuals, corporations and adverse reporting agency. (2)
Q. How can I have my pet’s adverse or suspected adverse microchip reaction recorded?
A. You can ask your veterinarian to report the adverse reaction or you can report it yourself. The adverse data may include a veterinary report, blood results, x-rays, biopsy report, pathology report, tissue samples, and any other information that may be relevant to the case.
The adverse reaction should be reported to the manufacturer/distributor of the chip, to the veterinary clinic, the shelter, or individual who implanted the chip, and to the adverse reporting agency in your country
. (3) The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA
) also records adverse microchip reactions. (4-7)
In order to increase public awareness of problems associated with microchip implants, you may also want to share your pet’s adverse microchip reaction with the media. There are also discussion groups and websites that allow you to share your adverse microchip experience with pet owners and the public.
Websites that are interested in recording adverse microchip reactions include: ChipMeNot (US)
, ChipMeNot (UK)
and Group Nijhof (Netherlands)
. (8-10) The website Dogs Adverse Reactions
in the US also records adverse reactions. (11)
If your animal experiences a severe adverse reaction – such as cancer, nerve damage, spinal cord injury, or death due to the microchip implant procedure – you should ask a qualified, independent researcher to examine the case and have it published in a reputable scientific journal.
Researchers at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, in Legnaro (PD), Italy, have experience in documenting cases of microchip-associated tumours in pets. Perhaps they would be interested in reviewing your case. (12-14)
Q. Why is it important to report an adverse or suspected adverse microchip reaction?
A. As illogical as it may seem, veterinarians are not required to report an adverse or suspected adverse microchip reaction. As a result, only an extremely small number of adverse microchip reactions are accurately reported and recorded.
This latter point is confirmed by Fred Nind, former Chairman of the Microchip Advisory Group. In the “Microchip Report 2003” he says:
“It is significant that several reports [of adverse microchip reactions] were received from some quite small practices while many larger practices filed no reports at all. This suggests that there is an element of under reporting which may be happening for a variety of reasons.” (15)
Chris Laurence, current Chairman of the Microchip Advisory Group, admits that adverse microchip reactions continue to be under-reported. (16)
Failure to report adverse microchip reactions allows those who promote the implants to say that adverse microchip reactions are rare. Unless adverse and suspected adverse microchip reactions are recorded, advocates of chipping will continue to claim that adverse microchip reactions are “rare” and that “the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks.”
Q. Who is financially responsible if my pet experiences an adverse microchip reaction?
A. In the majority of cases the owner assumes all of the financial burden, not to mention the emotional burden, when a pet experiences an adverse microchip reaction.
In some cases, however, the distributor of the chip will offer a small amount of money to compensate the owner for an adverse microchip reaction. For example, in the case of Scotty, a 5-year-old Yorkshire Terrier that developed epitheliotropic lymphoma (cancer) at the site of his microchip implant, the owner, Linda Hawkins was given US$300.00 to pay for his medical expenses. (17-20)
Q. Should I have the microchip removed from my animal?
A. This is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis because surgery is generally required to remove a microchip implant. If, however, your animal develops cancer or experiences a spinal cord injury due to the chip, it is best to consult with a competent veterinarian and have the device removed immediately.
Also, if the chip jeopardizes the health of your animal because the device has migrated, caused an abscess, or caused an infection, it should be removed. (21)
Q. Are animals required to be microchipped?
A. Some regions and countries have enacted legislation that requires some animals to be microchipped. Also, many animal shelters in the United States only allow pets to be adopted if they are chipped. In addition, it appears that pets living on US military bases are required to be chipped. (1-16)
Although some organizations support the use of microchip implants, not all of them believe that it should be a mandatory procedure. For example, the American Kennel Club (AKC) writes:
“As part of AKC's ongoing efforts to promote responsible dog ownership, we encourage dog owners to properly identify their pets. We believe, however, that the final decision about identification – whether by collar, tattoo or microchip – should be made by the owner, not the government.
Q. Does mandatory chipping legislation apply to animals that are predisposed to cancer?
It is crucial that all fanciers and concerned dog owners work together to protect our rights as dog owners.” (17)
A. Although specific exemptions for animals predisposed to cancer have not been incorporated in mandatory chipping legislation, it is important to check the current legislation in your area because some exemptions may apply
Certain breeds of dogs, gray horses and other animals are predisposed to develop lumps and cancerous growths. We are also living in a period when cancer is becoming more and more prevalent in animals. Mandating a procedure that has the potential to cause cancer is illogical and unethical. Please consult with a lawyer regarding your legal rights to protect your animal.
Q. My pet wears a collar with current identification and has a legible tattoo. Why should I be required to have my pet chipped?
A. A properly fitted collar with current identification and a tattoo is a great combination to use in order to identify your pet. So, there is no reason that you should be required to have a microchip implanted in your pet.
Also, in light of the fact that scientific documents show that animals have developed cancerous growths, experienced spinal cord injuries, and died because of the microchip implant procedure, no one should be obliged to have a microchip (foreign object) implanted in his or her animal.
Q. My pet has a non-ISO microchip implant. However, the country that I am taking my pet to requires an ISO microchip. What should I do?
A. Even though your pet already has a non-ISO microchip, he or she will probably be required to have an ISO microchip implant in order to enter a country that requires ISO chips.
In some cases, the country may allow your pet to enter without an ISO chip as long as you have a scanner that can read the chip that is already implanted in your pet. For example, the Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) of Japan says:
“Dogs and cats must be individually identified by microchip … If the animal is not implanted with an ISO compliant (11784 and 11785) microchip, please bring a microchip reader with you.” (18)
If you decide not to have an ISO chip implanted in your pet and he or she is lost or stolen in a country that only has scanners that read ISO chips, it is likely that the chip will not be detected when scanned.
Q. What are some of the reasons used to justify and implement mandatory animal microchipping legislation?
A. Several reasons are used to justify and implement mandatory chipping legislation. For example, advocates of microchipping claim that:
However, there are major flaws in all of the aforementioned arguments. (Please see the following questions and answers for details.)
Q. Is microchipping a permanent form of identification that guarantees the safe return of my pet if he or she is lost or stolen?
- Microchipping is a permanent form of identification that allows lost or stolen pets to be reunited with their owners.
- Microchipping will significantly reduce the number of animals in shelters.
- Owners of “dangerous” dogs can be identified and held accountable for problems caused by their dogs.
- Microchip implants will deter thieves from stealing pets.
- Veterinarians can identify and locate breeders whose dogs have medical problems due to inbreeding.
- Pets that travel between countries can be easily identified via their microchip implant.
- Diseased animals can be easily identified and located via their microchip implant.
- Microchipping will prevent cruelty to animals.
- Microchipping will make pet owners more responsible.
A. As previously mentioned in this document, microchip implants are not necessarily a permanent form of identification. For example, sometimes microchips stop working, are expelled from the body, become lost within the body, or are incorrectly read by the scanner. Microchip implant numbers can also be duplicated. As a result, more than one animal may have the same identification number. Also, even if a microchip is working and its identification number is unique, the chip number and current contact information of the owner must be accurately recorded in the appropriate database in order to identify the animal and contact the owner.
Pet owners should also be aware that sometimes scanners cannot detect microchip implants. As a result, lost microchipped pets that have been taken to shelters have been re-homed or euthanized. (19)
Also, cases in the United Kingdom demonstrate that microchips are not proof of ownership. Therefore, even if you locate your lost or stolen microchipped pet, it is possible that your pet will not be returned to you. (20-21)
Q. Will microchipping significantly reduce the number of animals in shelters?
A. Those who promote and/or profit from microchip implant technology claim that microchipping will significantly reduce the number of animals in shelters. However, this claim is not substantiated by accurate, independent, long-term studies. In fact, in the few, short-term studies that used carefully selected animal shelters to test microchips, scanners and databases, researchers noticed many limitations associated with microchip implant technology. For example, in “Sensitivity of Commercial Scanners to Microchips of Various Frequencies Implanted in Dogs and Cats,” Linda K. Lord and colleagues discuss some of the problems associated with microchipping. They also write that microchipping “is not an infallible system, and it is not realistic to expect 100% performance.” (22)
Also, in “Evaluation of Collars and Microchips for Visual and Permanent Identification of Pet Cats,” L. K. Lord and colleagues agree that “visual identification remains the easiest and fastest way to reunite lost pets with their owners.” (23)
Q. Will the use of microchip implants make owners accountable for “dangerous” dogs?
A. In order to avoid identification, owners of “dangerous” dogs will find ways to keep their dogs from being chipped. Either the owners will not have their dogs chipped, or they will have the chip removed surgically or via an inhumane method. It is also possible that owners of dangerous dogs will deactivate the implant so that the identification number cannot be read.
As microchip numbers can be duplicated, owners of dangerous dogs could obtain a microchip that has the same number as a gentle dog, and have it implanted in their dangerous dog. Dr. Hannis Stoddard of AVID microchip implants writes:
“Unencrypted ISO chips can be easily and quickly cloned. These clones can be used to implant identical chips into another pet to avoid liability for a vicious dog or defraud insurance companies.” (24)
Q: Will microchip implants deter thieves from stealing pets?
A. High-tech car alarms have not deterred thieves from stealing cars. Why, therefore, would low-tech microchip implants deter thieves from stealing pets?
In addition to stealing microchipped pets, thieves might steal microchip scanners so that they can locate the microchip implanted in the animal that they have stolen. Then they might deactivate the device or remove it from the animal, which could pose health risks for the animal.
Q. Will microchipping allow veterinarians to identify and locate breeders whose dogs have medical problems due to inbreeding?
A. Besides being difficult to legally prove that an animal has medical problems due to inbreeding, it is highly unlikely that veterinarians have the time, resources, or legal power to identify and locate breeders whose dogs have medical problems due to inbreeding.
Also, Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD writes:
“[A] veterinarian doesn’t cross-reference every microchip number with an owner’s name and digits. That’d be an onerous add-on to a very busy day, and not very fruitful given that most microchips are unregistered and mis-registered to pet shops and shelters.” (25)
Q. Will microchipping make it easier to identify pets that travel between countries?
A. Sometimes microchip implants do not work. As a result, microchipped pets have been denied entry into countries that require a microchip as a form of identification. For example, in 2007, a chocolate Labrador named Coco was not allowed to re-enter the UK because her chip was unreadable. At the suggestion of Eurotunnel staff members, Coco’s owners, Jane and Richard Birtwistle, took Coco to a French veterinarian. However, he too was unable to read the chip. As a result, surgery was performed to remove the faulty chip and another one was implanted. The Birtwistle’s were obliged to leave Coco in France until the issue was resolved. Jane Birtwistle says:
“It has caused the whole family a great deal of emotional stress to witness Coco undergo a risky surgical procedure carried out for non medical purposes and then be separated from us for what could have resulted in a period of up to 6 months. It has also caused us a great deal of financial stress.” (26-27)
The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) is aware that faulty microchips can cause problems for pet owners and their travelling pets. It says:
“[M]icrochips can fail. This has particular implications for those travelling abroad with their pet, as microchip failure can lead to an animal being unable to travel.” (28)
Methods that are less invasive and less dangerous than implantable microchips can be used to identify animals that travel between countries. For example, a combination of a properly fitted collar with current identification tags, a passport, tattoo, or brand can be used.
Q. Will microchipping make it easier to identify and locate diseased animals?
A. Due to problems associated with microchip implant technology (microchips, scanners and databases), it would not be wise to rely on the use of microchips to identify and locate diseased animals, particularly when there is a crisis.
Barbara Masin of Electronic Identification Devices, Ltd. (EID), distributor of Trovan microchip implants in the US, says:
“The NAIS [National Animal Identification System] is being touted as an anti-bioterrorism measure, but it won’t cut the mustard, especially using these chips. If USDA or our livestock/horse industries tell people this is what they have to use, the first incidence of some serious disease outbreak after the NAIS is implemented will spawn litigation. We have put the USDA on notice, in writing, that this is a problem (so they are aware of it), and if they persist with their plans and use this type of ID anyway, it will be a field day for lawyers.” (29)
Q. Will microchipping prevent cruelty to animals?
A. Microchipping will not prevent cruelty to animals. In fact, when asked about this particular topic, Chris Laurence (Chairman of the Microchip Advisory Group and former Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust in the UK) responded:
“If somebody is going to keep a dog in a shed and abuse it, they are going to keep a dog in the shed and abuse it.” (30)
Q. Will microchipping make pet owners more responsible?
A. Microchipping will not make pet owners more responsible; only educating them will.
Q. What are some of the real reasons for implementing mandatory animal microchipping legislation?
A. One of the reasons for passing legislation that requires people to have their animals chipped is that a lot of money can be earned from microchip implants, scanning devices, the microchip implant procedure, registration fees, and data-mining. However, as only a small percentage of animals have been microchipped on a voluntary basis, mandatory microchipping legislation is necessary in order to make chipping profitable.
Depending on the area in which your pet lives, mandatory microchipping of animals – as opposed to voluntary chipping – could mean that those who manufacture, sell and implant microchips are absolved from all responsibility if your animal experiences an adverse microchip reaction. (31)
Another reason for implementing mandatory animal microchipping legislation is that it could allow people to be identified and located via their animals. It also prepares people to accept microchip implants for human use. For more information regarding human chipping, please see the question: “Why should the general public be concerned about animal microchipping?
Q. Why have some regions and countries enacted legislation for mandatory animal chipping yet they have not enacted legislation for mandatory reporting of adverse or suspected adverse microchip reactions?
A. For some reason it is not mandatory to report an adverse microchip reaction, or a reaction to any veterinary product for that matter.
Perhaps your veterinarian, government officials, policy-makers, or those who sell and promote microchip implants can answer the question and you can write a report about their responses.
In the meantime, as long as it is not mandatory to report adverse or suspected adverse microchip reactions, only an extremely small percentage of adverse microchip reactions will be reported. As a result, those who support microchipping will continue to mislead the public by saying that microchip implants are safe.
Q. I’ve heard that some organizations and individuals who advocate the use of microchip implants not only have a vested interest in the success of microchip implant technology but also have influential policy-making positions regarding mandatory chipping legislation. Is this true?
A. Yes. For example, the Microchip Advisory Group (MAG) and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) are strong advocates of animal microchipping. The BSAVA appoints the Chairman of meetings and provides the Secretariat to the MAG. The BSAVA also “reserves the right to invite observers and induct new members to the group.” (32) Current membership of the Microchip Advisory Group is: "Manufacturers; Distributors; Databases; Major purchasers; Major implanters" that influence microchipping policies and benefit financially from compulsory microchipping legislation. (33-34)
Chris Laurence, MBE, QVRM, TD, BVSc, MRCVS, is the BSAVA's appointed Chairman of the MAG. While Chairman of the MAG he was the Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, which is an influential dog welfare charity in the UK that is campaigning for mandatory animal chipping. Dogs Trust also advises government on “any matters concerning dog ownership.” (35-38)
Before becoming the Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, Mr. Laurence was the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The RSPCA is the oldest animal charity in the world and “has a local government adviser who provides an information service on a variety of animal welfare issues to politicians and officers at all levels of local government in England and Wales.” The RSPCA is campaigning for mandatory chipping. (39-41)
Mr. Laurence was also Vice Chairman of the Pet Advisory Committee (PAC), which “is made up of major animal welfare charities, veterinary organizations, environmental health, local authority and trade associations.” (42) PAC advises national and local government about animal welfare issues. PAC supports compulsory chipping. (43)
Mr. Laurence is also on the BSAVA’s International Affairs Committee, which “is responsible for links with UEVP [Union of European Veterinary Practitioners], and through UEVP to FVE [Federation of Veterinarians of Europe] and also for liaison with FECAVA [Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations] and WSAVA [World Small Animal Veterinary Association]. This allows BSAVA to identify and influence matters of importance to the small animal veterinary surgeon in Europe and further afield.” (44)
Also, before becoming Chairman of the MAG, Mr. Laurence represented the UK at an ISO Working Group 3: Identification meeting in Paris, France in 2001. (45) Although the BSAVA says the Chairman of the MAG meetings “is to be independent,” the positions that Mr. Laurence has been appointed to indicate enmeshment with industry, rather than independence. (46)
It is also important to note that Mr. Laurence admits that microchip numbers can be duplicated, that microchipping will not prevent cruelty to animals and that adverse microchip reactions are under-reported. (47) Nevertheless, he supports compulsory microchipping.
Also, data used to justify the "safety" of microchipping is not based on long-term, scientific studies by independent researchers. Instead, the “safety” data is often based on adverse microchip reports compiled by the BSAVA. However, as veterinarians are not required to report adverse or suspected adverse microchip reactions, adverse events are rarely reported. (48)
Although the BSAVA admits that there is “an element of under reporting [of adverse microchip reactions] that may be happening for a variety of reasons,” neither the BSAVA nor the MAG has campaigned for mandatory reporting of adverse or suspected adverse microchip reactions. (49) Nevertheless, both organizations support mandatory chipping legislation.
Q. I’ve heard that some veterinarians who advocate the use of microchip implants not only have a vested interest in the success of microchipping but also have influential policy-making positions regarding mandatory chipping legislation. Is this true?
A. Yes. For example, Dr. Walt Ingwersen, DVM is the Honorary Secretary of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), which "has recognised Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) as the gold standard for identification of companion animals." (50-51) Dr. Ingwersen has also been Chair of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Microchip Committee, Chair of the WSAVA Microchip Committee, and Canadian Delegate to the International Standards Organization (ISO) Committee that is responsible for developing global standards for RFID technology. (52-53)
Dr. Ingwersen is a co-author of the 2008 paper entitled “Sensitivity of Commercial Scanners to Microchips of Various Frequencies Implanted in Dogs and Cats,” in which he and his colleagues write, “There are concerns, however, that universal scanners may not be sufficiently sensitive to detect all microchips.” (54) Dr. Ingwersen is also a co-author of the 2008 paper entitled “In Vitro Sensitivity of Commercial Scanners to Microchips of Various Frequencies,” in which he and his colleagues write, “Findings in the present study help to emphasize that even under controlled conditions, no scanner has 100% sensitivity for all microchips in all orientations.” (55) Nevertheless, he supports mandatory microchipping legislation.
Dr. Ingwersen is also a consultant for Pethealth Inc., which provides pet recovery database services under the 24PetWatch brand name. The 24PetWatch program includes the use of the 24PetWatch microchip. (56) In May 2010, Pethealth issued a press release announcing an extension of its "strategic alliance with Allflex USA, Inc., the world's leading provider of ID technology for animals." (57) The press release also says:
"Companion animal microchipping is a key driver to Pethealth's insurance and non-insurance operations alike, most notably with respect to pet owner and pet data collection and aggregation.” (58)
In 2011, Allflex expanded its business in animal identification by purchasing Destron Fearing Corporation from Digital Angel Corporation for approximately $25 million. (59-60)
Allflex is a member of the Microchip Advisory Group (MAG)
, which is comprised of "Manufacturers; Distributors; Databases; Major purchasers; Major implanters" that influence microchipping policies and benefit financially from compulsory microchip legislation. (61-62)
Q. I’ve heard that some dog groups that advocate the use of microchip implants not only have a vested interest in the success of microchipping but also have influential policy-making positions regarding mandatory chipping legislation. Is this true?
A. Yes. For example, the Kennel Club (UK), which promotes itself as being “the largest organization in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training,” supports mandatory microchipping of animals. (63) It says:
“[T]he Kennel Club is a part of the Microchipping Alliance which comprises of a variety of prominent animal welfare organisations and others who are impacted by dog issues. The Group works to raise public awareness of microchipping and its benefits and lobbies the government to introduce regulations that would enable compulsory permanent identification through microchipping for all dogs in the UK.” (64)
In addition to its support of compulsory microchipping legislation, The Kennel Club owns and manages Petlog, the UK's largest microchip pet registration database. Petlog runs National Microchipping Month, which is sponsored by the Kennel Club “to assist veterinary practices, local authorities, rescue centres and welfare organisations in the education and promotion of responsible pet ownership through microchipping.” (65-67) National Microchipping Month is also geared to chipping zoo animals. (68)
To promote “The Kennel Club’s Compulsory Microchipping Campaign,” the Kennel Club says, “Microchipping is a safe and painless way to permanently identify your pet.” (69) However, there are serious potential health risks associated with microchipping
and a microchip implant is not necessarily a permanent form of identification
The Kennel Club also says, “[B]y having their pets microchipped, owners can ensure that if their missing pets are found they will be returned to them." (70) However, the Kennel Club is fully aware that cases in the UK demonstrate that microchipping does not provide proof of ownership. For example, in the news report entitled “Dog-Owner Prevented from Finding Microchipped Pet Under Data Protection Act,” Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club says, “Microchipping … does not provide proof of ownership.” (71) Therefore, even if you locate your lost or stolen microchipped pet, the identifying chip does not guarantee that your pet will be returned to you.
The Kennel Club and Petlog are members of the Microchip Advisory Group (MAG), which is comprised of "Manufacturers; Distributors; Databases; Major purchasers; Major implanters" that influence microchipping policies and benefit financially from compulsory microchip legislation. (72)
Q. How will mandatory animal microchipping legislation be enforced?
A. Only the future will reveal the answer to this question. In the meantime, suggestions have been made to require veterinarians to report owners of non-chipped pets to the authorities. However, if such a policy is implemented, people opposed to chipping will be reluctant to take their non-chipped pet to the vet when the animal needs medical attention. Requiring veterinarians to report owners of non-chipped pets to the authorities could also strain the relationship between veterinarians and pet owners:
“If veterinary surgeons were expected to ‘police’ any policy of compulsory microchipping this could have a negative effect on animal health and welfare, by adversely affecting the client vet relationship,” writes Anthony Roberts, Policy and Public Affairs Officer for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the UK. (73-74)
Local animal control officers could also be used to enforce compulsory chipping laws. For example, in the 2011 news report entitled “West Covina-Area Pet Owners Face Fees for Failure to Microchip, Vaccinate,” it says:
“Animal control officers will be out in unincorporated areas of West Covina checking for compliance with laws that include requiring owners to vaccinate, spay/neuter and microchip their dogs and cats… .” (75)
Using animal control officers to enforce compulsory microchipping would be costly and time-consuming because areas that already have financial problems will have to hire and train more employees. Expensive scanning devices that can detect and read all microchip implants would also have to be purchased.
Using animal control officers to enforce compulsory microchipping could also anger pet owners and members of the public who believe that the government is not only wasting valuable resources that could be used for more important needs in the community but they could also take action against the government for invading their privacy and exerting too much control over their lives.
Compulsory microchipping could also be enforced if animals are required to be chipped in order to enter a country, or if an association requires chipping for registration or competition purposes. However, as soon as enough pet owners file lawsuits because of adverse microchip reactions or because of false advertising claims about microchipping (just as microchip companies have filed lawsuits against their competitors for misleading and false advertising claims
), microchipping will become a costly endeavour for those who manufacture and sell microchips. Chipping will also become problematic for those who enact and enforce mandatory microchipping policies. (76-77)
Also, with regards to the campaign that has been launched to implement mandatory dog chipping in the UK, Richard Bacon MP says:
“There are important questions over whether making it mandatory to microchip all dogs in the UK would work in practical terms. For instance, the government would need to set up a national dog registration scheme, but this has been tried before. The dog licence was abolished in 1987 because it was too expensive to run and very few dog owners took any notice of it.” (78)
So, just as it is difficult to enforce dog licensing policies, it will probably be difficult to enforce mandatory microchipping legislation.
Q. What will happen to people who refuse to allow their animals to be chipped?
A. People could be fined for refusing to have their animals chipped. For example, in the 2012 report entitled “Pet Checks in Saugus/Stevenson Ranch,” it says:
“Officers from the Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) will be in the unincorporated areas in the vicinity of Saugus and Stevenson Ranch checking for current rabies vaccinations, ensuring residents are in compliance with licensing requirements as well as the mandatory spay/neuter and microchip ordinance … Residents not in compliance will be subject to license fees and delinquency charges, including a $40 field enforcement fee… .” (79)
In the UK, horses, ponies, donkeys and zebras are required to have a current horse passport and a microchip implant to identify them. Owners can be fined up to £5000 if they violate this rule. (80)
Imposing fines on those who refuse to have their animals chipped leads to important questions that must be answered by those who propose, enact and enforce mandatory chipping legislation. For example: What happens if a person will not or cannot pay the fine for having a non-chipped animal? Will the person be imprisoned? Will the animal be confiscated? If the person is imprisoned or the animal is confiscated, will the animal be re-homed or even euthanized? Also, how will shelters be able to accommodate non-chipped animals that have been taken from their owners, particularly when shelters are struggling to support the animals that are already in their care?
In the case of farmers who refuse to have their livestock chipped, it is possible that they will be forced out of business because they will not be able to sell their non-chipped animals for food consumption or breeding purposes.
Q. What can I do to prevent my animal from being microchipped?
A. Educate yourself regarding the problems associated with microchip implant technology and consult with a lawyer regarding your legal rights.
Also, review the mandatory microchipping policy in your area very carefully because there may be exceptions to the legislation. For example, in Northern Ireland the “Dogs (Amendment) Act, (Northern Ireland) 2011” says that all dogs must be microchipped in order to receive a dog license. However, this rule does not apply "if the keeper of the dog produces to the council a certificate signed by a veterinary surgeon to the effect that implantation (or continued implantation) of a microchip in the dog would have an adverse effect on the health of the dog." (81)
The law in New Zealand says, “All dogs registered in New Zealand for the first time from 1 July 2006, except working farm dogs, need to be microchipped.” (82) It also says, “Most other dogs will not need to be microchipped unless they:
• Have been classified as dangerous or menacing
on or after 1 December 2003.
• Are unregistered and get impounded.
• Are registered and get impounded twice.” (83-85)
In the UK, all horses, ponies, donkeys and zebras are required to have an up-to-date horse passport and a microchip implant. However:
“[H]orses living in the New Forest, or on Dartmoor and Exmoor … don’t need a micro-chip or passport while they remain in these areas, as long as they are registered in the appropriate studbook.
Special arrangements are in place that allow the ponies to move from the areas without a micro-chip. This arrangement doesn’t extend to all horses within the areas.” (86-87)
Also, it appears that horses in the UK that have a current passport and have been identified before July 31, 2009, do not need to be chipped. (88-89)
Q. What can I do to prevent, reverse and ban mandatory animal microchipping legislation?
A. The first step is to learn the truth about microchip implant technology. Then you can increase awareness of the health risks and other problems associated with microchipping by sharing the information with pet owners, breeders, veterinarians, animal associations, government officials, the general public, the media and those responsible for proposing and enacting mandatory microchipping legislation.
In addition to sharing this document with others, sample letters are available for you to use when writing to the government, media and others regarding the risks of microchip implants and why no one should be forced to have a microchip (foreign object) implanted in their animal’s body. Sample letters are available here
You can also organize and/or participate in a peaceful anti-microchip protest; design, wear and/or sell anti-microchip clothes and accessories; write an anti-microchip song and/or jingle; write an essay and/or book about microchip implants; create an anti-microchip website; put an educational, anti-microchip video on the Internet; create and/or sign an anti-microchip petition
etc… . (91)
NOTE: Several anti-microchip petitions have already been created. Please review the petitions that are referenced in brackets, and show your support by signing the petitions and sharing them with others. (92-95)
Q. What suggestions do you have for pet owners and breeders regarding microchip implants?
A. Pet owners and breeders are rarely advised of potential health risks and other problems associated with microchipping. So, it is important that pet owners and breeders educate themselves about this topic.
Pet owners and breeders should also report all adverse and all suspected adverse microchip reactions to the appropriate individuals and organizations. In addition, pet owners and breeders should work together to prevent mandatory microchipping legislation and to reverse current mandatory microchipping legislation that has already been enacted.
If you do not want your pet microchipped, ask your veterinarian to write “DO NOT MICROCHIP” on the top of your pet’s medical file. If your pet is already microchipped, ask your veterinarian to write “DO NOT GIVE ANY VACCINES OR INJECTIONS AT OR NEAR THE SITE OF THE MICROCHIP IMPLANT.”
Due to problems associated with microchip implant technology, pet owners who have microchipped pets should not be lulled into a false sense of security by believing that their pets can be identified via the chip if they are lost, stolen or required to have a chip as a form of identification.
Q. What suggestions do you have for those who promote and sell microchip implants?
A. Learn the truth about microchip implant technology and advise consumers of potential risks associated with microchipping.
Q. What suggestions do you have for veterinary clinics, animal shelters and rescue organizations regarding microchip implants?
A. Do not allow yourselves to be influenced by misleading or false advertising claims regarding the safety and reliability of microchips. To develop a balanced understanding of the issues, educate yourselves regarding the health risks and other problems associated with microchipping. (1-2)
Veterinarians, animal shelters and rescue organizations should advise pet owners regarding all risks associated with microchipping and they should teach pet owners how to check the site of the microchip implant. The authors of the scientific document entitled “Microchip-Associated Fibrosarcoma in a Cat,” write:
“[V]eterinarians should be aware that tumours can develop at microchip sites, and owners should be educated to monitor these sites for long periods of time, in order to promote early detection as well as better definition of the incidence of tumours.” (3)
Also, animals that have been microchipped should not be given vaccines or other injections at or near the site of the implant.
Veterinarians, animal shelters and rescue organizations should also document all suspected adverse microchip reactions. The data should be reported to the manufacturer/distributor of the chip and to the appropriate adverse reaction agency. (4)
In the case of adverse reactions – such as cancer, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, death due the implant procedure and MRI incompatibility issues – it is important to work with competent, independent researchers and pathologists so that the adverse reaction can be documented in a reputable scientific journal.
Veterinarians, animal shelters and rescue organizations should also remind pet owners regarding the importance of putting a properly fitted collar with current identification on their pets, whether or not the pets have been microchipped. Microchips can and do fail. (5-6)
Q. What suggestions do you have for policy-makers regarding microchip implants?
A. Policy-makers should learn the truth about microchip implants. Policy-makers should also prevent those who manufacture, promote and/or sell microchip implant technology from using deceptive and false advertising, and impose heavy fines on them if they continue with this type of behavior.
Policy-makers should also implement legislation for mandatory reporting of adverse and suspected adverse microchip reactions, reverse mandatory chipping legislation currently enacted, and resist mandatory animal chipping legislation.
Public awareness campaigns can also be used to remind pet owners to keep a safe collar with current identification on their pets.
Q. What suggestions do you have for researchers and pathologists regarding microchip implants?
A. Researchers and pathologists play a key role in the scientific documentation of adverse microchip reactions and in making the data available to the medical community, pet owners and anyone else who is interested in the topic.
Publication of adverse microchip reaction case studies in reputable scientific journals is essential in order to increase awareness of problems associated with microchipping. (7)
Q. How can I learn more about microchipping?
A. The document entitled “Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?
” offers an in-depth review of health risks associated with microchip implants, the unethical behavior of the microchip industry and other problems associated with microchipping. (8) The supporting “References
” section also leads to a wealth of information. (9)
The document entitled “Are Pet Owners Being Misled Regarding the Safety and Reliability of Microchip Implants?
” discusses several of the tactics used by advocates of microchipping in order to convince pet owners that microchips are safe and reliable. (10)
The “Advanced Literature: Microchips
” section of Léon’s website
provides scientific literature regarding health risks and other problems associated with microchip implant technology. (11-12)
The “Layman’s Literature: Microchips
” section of Léon’s website contains an extensive list of helpful articles, websites and videos that pertain to microchip implants. (13)
The documents “Microchip-Induced Tumors in Laboratory Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 1990-2006
” and “Microchip Implants: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
” by Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D. are also very informative. (14-15)
Q. What are safe alternatives to microchip implants?
A. A properly fitted collar with current identification is still the most safe, effective and economical way to identify your pet. A tattoo done professionally, humanely and on a voluntary basis (rather than on a mandatory basis) is another effective way to identify your pet. A passport used in conjunction with an identification collar and a tattoo is also a helpful form of identification, particularly for animals that compete and/or travel.
Q. Why is a properly fitted collar with current identification an important form of identification?
A. A properly fitted collar with current identification is important because:
Q. What can I do to prevent my pet from getting lost or stolen?
- It is safe, effective and inexpensive.
- It does not require special equipment to install, and only requires average vision and basic reading skills to be seen and read.
- It allows the person who finds the lost animal to contact the owner directly and have the animal quickly reunited with the owner.
- The owner can immediately see if the collar or tag is missing and promptly replace it.
- It is easy to remember to update an animal’s contact information when it is either written on or attached to the collar because it is visible.
- If your animal requires MRI diagnostics, it is easy to temporarily remove the collar and identification tag for the MRI procedure. As a result, the collar and tag will not endanger the animal or impede MRI diagnostics.
A. Here are some suggestions:
Q. What can I do to locate my pet if he or she is lost or stolen?
- Know your pet well. For example: Is your pet an escape artist or an adventurer who looks for opportunities to leave the house or property? If so, find out how your pet is escaping and then figure out a safe way to prevent her from repeating the behaviour.
Is your pet afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks? If so, use safe, gentle methods to keep your pet calm so that she does not get stressed and try to run away.
Does your pet have a favourite hiding place or a neighbour that she likes to visit? If so, find out where she goes, because this is one of the first places that you should look if she is missing for an unusual length of time.
Does your pet have a lot of energy or is she easily bored? If so, make sure that she gets the appropriate amount of exercise on a daily basis and has safe toys to play with. These measures will reduce the chance that she will run off.
Does your dog have a tendency to slip out of her collar when you take her for a walk? If so, walk her with a properly fitted harness. The extra advantage of using a harness is that if she pulls on the leash, her neck and throat will not get sore, bruised or damaged.
Does your dog have a tendency to jump in the car with strangers? If so, pay close attention because these dogs are easy targets for thieves.
Does your cat like to play or sleep in vehicles that are left open? If so, be sure to keep your vehicle shut (doors, windows and trunks) and ask guests who visit your property to do the same.
- Keep a safe collar with current identification on your pet. If he runs off, someone may find him and call you before you realize that he is missing.
- Consider having your pet tattooed by a professional in a calm environment because a tattoo is a helpful form of visual identification.
- Teach your pet to come when you call her. For example, call her name, whistle for her, and teach her hand signals. When she obeys, reward her with praise and a healthy treat.
You can also teach your dog to bark. Every time she barks on command, say, “Good girl.” Soon your dog will bark when you give the command, “Speak.” This could be very useful when looking for a lost dog.
Cats can also be taught to respond vocally when called.
- Make a habit of promptly closing doors that access the exterior of your home and insist that family, friends and visitors do the same.
- Windows should be closed, particularly if you have a cat that likes to escape. If you need to keep a window open, either keep your pet away from that particular area, or install a strong, safe screen. Be sure to check the screen daily to make sure that it is secure and in good condition.
- Install safe fencing that is appropriate for your pet and the property on which you live. Special cat fencing is available which allows your cats to play outside. It also prevents other animals from accessing the enclosed area.
- Keep property gates closed and consider installing latches that close automatically. It is a good idea to attach a sign that says, “PLEASE CLOSE GATE PROMPTY AND SECURELY.” This is a helpful reminder for everyone; particularly for children, visitors and absent-minded people who may forget to shut the gate.
- If you live in a high-rise or have a balcony, be sure to take precautionary measures so that pets cannot fall, escape, or get stuck on the roof.
- If you have a pet that is easily frightened or likes to bolt out the door, you may want to put him in a safe place with clean water, healthy treats and safe toys when you have visitors. Or, you can hold him on a leash when visitors come in and out of the door.
These precautionary measures are especially important during holidays and whenever fireworks are being set off.
- If you are renovating your home or moving to another location, be sure to provide a safe area for your pet so that she does not wander off, or is not inadvertently locked in a worker’s truck, a moving van or anywhere else.
If you do not have a safe place for your pet while you are renovating or while you are in the process of moving, consider asking a reliable family member, friend or pet service to keep your pet during this brief period.
- If you have just relocated to a new home, take as much time as necessary to familiarize your pet with the new home. Some pets take longer than others to adapt to a new environment. So be patient with your furry friend.
- If you are going on vacation and have arranged for a pet sitter to come to your home to take care of your pet, select a kind, competent person who your pet likes. Also, discuss any quirks that your pet may have with the pet sitter and reassure your pet that you will return.
- If you are traveling with a pet that is nervous or has a tendency to jump out of the car, it is a good idea to transport him in a safe, comfortable, spacious carrier.
- Always secure your cat in a safe, strong carrier when moving her to and from the vehicle. If your cat is calm and you allow her out of the carrier while in the vehicle, always secure her back in the carrier before anyone opens a window or door. Even cats that are extremely calm can be frightened by a police siren, a barking dog, or other sights and sounds. Do not take unnecessary risks that could endanger your pet’s life.
You may also want to put a safe, properly fitted harness on your cat when she travels with you. However, your cat must be used to wearing a harness. So, take the time to teach her by putting it on her for approximately ten minutes (or less time if she has difficulty tolerating it in the beginning) and increase time periods until she is comfortable enough to wear a harness while travelling.
- When using commercial carrier services (such as planes, trains and buses) to transport your pet, always use a safe, strong crate that is properly marked with contact names and current phone numbers.
- Always keep a safe, sturdy pet carrier available in case bad weather forces you to leave your home quickly. This is especially important if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, avalanches, earthquakes or wildfires.
- Some breeds of animals are more likely to be stolen than others. However, thieves steal all types of pets, so always be vigilant.
Small dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers, are an easy target because they are easy to carry and easy to re-sell. Large dogs, such as Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, are targeted by thieves because these dogs may be used as guard dogs, as a status symbol or for dog fighting. Certain breeds like Beagles are stolen and used at laboratories for experiments that are often painful and cruel.
- Do not leave your dog attached to a parking meter or a lamp pole because he will be an easy target for thieves.
- Breeders should always be careful of potential buyers because someone who expresses interest in the puppies or kittens could be a thief posing as a buyer. So be extremely careful if you let potential buyers come to your home.
- If you have information about any individuals or groups that are involved in the process of stealing animals, please expose them and have them prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
- Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, make a habit of taking precautionary measures to keep your pets safe. Good luck!
A. Here are several suggestions:
Q. Do you have any suggestions regarding a suitable collar for my dog?
- Thoroughly examine all areas of your house and property because your pet may have gotten locked in a closet or vehicle by accident. (Cats are notorious for pranks like this because they are very curious and love to explore.) Also, carefully check the area surrounding your property.
Use a “call and listen” approach when searching for your pet. In other words, call, whistle, and make a noise with one of your pet’s favourite toys. Then listen carefully for some indication that your pet is nearby. For example, your pet may respond to you by making a noise that enables you to find him if he is hiding under the neighbour’s porch or stuck in a tree. Also, if your pet has a bell on his collar, listen for the sound of that particular bell.
- As soon as you have determined that your pet is missing, figure out when she was last seen. If, for example, you saw your cat before family, friends or workmen visited your property, it is possible that she hitched a ride in their vehicle. So, contact them immediately and ask them to check their vehicle (including the trunk) for a stow-away cat. Or, if your dog is missing and you saw strangers hanging around your property or in the neighbourhood, it is possible that your dog has been stolen. In that case, you should contact the local police because they may be aware of a dog-napping operation.
- Ask your neighbours if they have seen your pet recently. Also ask if they have seen any unusual activity near your house. This may help you determine if your pet got scared and is hiding nearby, or if your pet may have been stolen. Ask your neighbours to call you as soon as they see your pet.
- Call and/or visit all of the veterinary clinics, animal shelters and rescue organizations in your neighbourhood or county. (It is a good idea to keep a list of current contact numbers available in case your pet goes missing because this will save you a lot of valuable time when looking for your pet.) Ask them if they have your pet. If they do, go and get him immediately because some shelters will hold pets for a limited amount of time and then euthanize them. If they do not have your pet, ask them to contact you as soon as someone brings your pet to their facility. Staff members change and notes can get lost, so call the facility daily to ask about your missing pet.
- Create a missing poster of your pet and post it in your neighbourhood, at veterinary clinics, animal shelters, pet stores and other helpful locations. Posters that are posted outside should be put in a water-proof sleeve or designed on water-proof material. The poster should include a current, clear photo of your pet, an accurate description, and current phone numbers so that you can be contacted.
If you think your pet has been stolen, write “STOLEN” on the poster. If you offer a reward for the safe return of your pet, print “REWARD” on the poster. However, do not give money to anyone who claims to have your pet until your pet is safely returned to you.
In order to avoid con-artists, do not include details on the poster of one or two of your pet’s identifying marks. For example, your pet may have a black spot on the tongue, a chipped tooth, or a unique pattern on the inside of the right front leg. When someone calls to say that he or she has found your pet, ask for a detailed description of the area of your pet that only you, close family members and the caller know about. Also, if your pet has a tattoo, ask the caller to provide the number and/or letters of the tattoo. If the caller identifies your pet accurately, arrange to meet in a public place as soon as possible.
- Put a lost pet advertisement in local papers.
- Use online resources to spread the word about your missing pet.
- Get the media involved. If you are a celebrity this should be relatively easy. However, if you are not a celebrity, you may have to be creative. For example, dress up in a dog or cat suit, stand in a safe spot at a busy intersection, and hand out flyers of your missing pet. Get family and friends to dress up in animal costumes and join your efforts. Who knows, your story could make the evening news!
- Enlist the help of a reputable pet detective or an animal communicator who specializes in locating missing pets.
- Be persistent. Be persistent. Be persistent.
- Once you have found your pet, be sure to take down all of the posters. Also notify the individuals and establishments that you called regarding your pet, and thank them for their cooperation and assistance.
A. Dogs usually adapt quickly to wearing a collar and there are a lot of choices available. Still, here are a few suggestions:
Q. Do you have any suggestions regarding a suitable collar for my cat?
- Some people prefer leather collars while other people prefer nylon collars. (Nylon collars are useful if you are taking your dog swimming or giving him a bath because nylon is easy to rinse off quickly and also withstands a lot of soap and water.)
- Collars that have a reflector strip are great because it makes it easier to see your dog in the dark. A reflector strip may also help to prevent your dog from being hit by a car because drivers have a better chance of seeing her. A small flashing light can also be attached to your dog’s collar.
- If your dog does not mind having a small bell on his collar, this is a useful item that allows you to keep track of him. A bell is also great because if your dog is missing, the sound of his bell will let you know when you are getting close to him.
- It is important to attach a tag (or two) with current identification on the collar. A variety of tags are available. Just be sure to select one that is safe, easy to read, durable and securely fastened to the collar.
- Collars must always be properly fitted; not too tight and not too loose. Use the two-finger rule: If you can slip your middle finger and index finger between your dog’s neck and the collar, it is probably a good fit. If you have any questions regarding the correct size and fit of your dog’s collar, just ask someone who is knowledgeable about dogs for advice.
- If you have a puppy, remember that puppies outgrow their collars. So be sure to adjust and replace the collar as your little friend grows up.
- It is a good idea to keep an extra collar and identification tag handy in case either one breaks or gets lost. That way you can replace the collar and/or tag immediately.
- Properly fitted harnesses are great for dogs that have a tendency to pull on the leash or slip out of their collars when going for a walk.
A. Cats can be a bit more fussy than dogs about wearing a collar. Here are a few tips for getting a collar that your feline friend approves of:
- Use a properly fitted break-away collar with current identification. (A break-away collar is designed to open if it is pulled with a bit of force.) Or use a collar that can slip over your cat’s head if she gets stuck on something.
If you wish, you can easily make a safe collar. Please click here for easy, step-by-step instructions that describe “How To Make A Safe, Inexpensive Cat Collar.” (16)
- In order to determine if you should put a bell on your cat’s collar, it is important to consider the personality and lifestyle of your cat. For example, some cats are very laid-back and do not mind having a small bell on their collar. However, cats that are very sensitive may not like the extra noise. Also, cats that play outside may not appreciate having a bell on their collar because the noise could make them an easy target for dogs, fox, coyotes or other potential predators. Putting a bell on the collar of an outdoor cat could also prevent him from catching mice and rats.
- While some cats immediately take to wearing a collar, others need a bit of time to get used to it. So, when teaching your cat to wear a collar (particularly a feral or older cat), put the collar on for about ten minutes (or less if your cat wants you to take it off). Watch your cat to see how she reacts. Gradually increase the amount of time that she wears her collar until you are sure that she is comfortable enough to wear it on a full-time basis.
- Collars must always be properly fitted; not too tight and not too loose. Use the two-finger rule: If you can slip your middle finger and index finger between your cat’s neck and the collar, it is probably a good fit. If you have any questions regarding the correct size and fit of your cat’s collar, just ask someone who is knowledgeable about cats for advice.
- If you have a kitten, remember that kittens outgrow their collars. So be sure to adjust and replace the collar as your feline friend grows up.
- It is a good idea to keep an extra collar and identification tag handy in case either one breaks or gets lost. That way you can replace the collar and/or tag immediately.
This information is provided by Noble-Leon.com
on behalf of, and in memory of Léon
, the unforgettable French Bulldog who helped to publicly expose the microchip-cancer risk and other problems associated with microchipping.
This document is dedicated to all of the animals that have warned us about the dangers of microchip implants.
Please click here to read
“Are Pet Owners Being Misled Regarding the Safety and Reliability of Microchip Implants?
Please click here to read
“Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?
NOTE: Due to the length of the References section, a separate document has been created. Please click here to visit the complete References section of “Microchip Implants: Questions and Answers.”