Since its first commercial application, and subsequent development into an implantable identification device for animals, microchips have been touted as the ultimate means of returning lost dogs and cats to their owners. Although animals do find their way back to their owners with the assistance of these devices, many pet owners do not realize the potential dangers and drawbacks of using microchips as a means to identifying pets.
Microchips, also known as Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) first became widely use in the 1980s as a means of identifying packing, are still used today to track a variety of items including packages, books, electronics, and vehicle containers The technology was developed into an implantable device that is encoded with unique identifier that would be transmitted to the chip-reading device when energized. Although the chips used to implant in animals contain no energy source of their own, they can be energized from outside sources, which is how chip readers are able to access the identifying numbers. Not long after animal implantation became commonplace, Veterinarians started noticing that large, often aggressive fibrosarcomas would appear around the chips, sometimes completely encasing the chip. In many instances the cancer had metastasized to distant organs, and even in instances where metastases was not present, the cancerous tumor was difficult to remove due to its locally invasive nature. Research has identified a possible link as well. Although not all animals will develop cancers, it is a consideration that must be weighed toward the final decision to chip.
With the use and availability of chipping, there is an overarching assumption that when a pet is found that it first of all will automatically be scanned, and secondly promptly returned to the owners. Not everyone that comes to a veterinary practice with a new pet will volunteer information that the pet was found as a stray. There is no law, or mitigating reason for veterinarians to scan every pet that comes in the door, as this particular stance would be extremely off-putting to clients, and takes the position that clients are withholding something about the animal in their possession. In general, unless a scan is requested from a client, it simply will not be done. If the individual has developed an emotional bond with the animal, it is highly unlikely that such a request would be made. Additionally, even were the pet to be scanned, clients could simply say that yes, they had it micro chipped, ending any further investigation into the matter. Although not all individuals will attempt subterfuge of this nature, it simply must be taken into consideration. Additionally, even if the animal is scanned, there are often multiple registries for individual manufactures of RFID chips. If the original owner of the pet fails to register the chip number, or keep the registry up to date, the information is useless.
There are many ways to protect the animal from loss that do not involve RFID devices. Using a properly fitting collar with a sturdy buckle or plastic latch, and a heavy metal ID tag with the owners current information is still the method that many animal shelters prefer. Inspecting the tags and collars for wear and replacing when needed are also extremely helpful. Collars should be snug, but loose enough to allow two fingers comfortably under the collar itself.
Tattoos are another form of identification that is both safe, and nearly impossible to remove. The inner thigh, or ear pinna (flap) are the most common site for animal tattoos, and the presence of a tattoo is still a strong theft deterrent. The national dog registry offers registry information to pet owners, as well as help on finding people to tattoo a pet. Other registries are also available to identify tattoos. Tattoos are often done while an animal is being spayed or under anesthesia to a discomfort to the pet. Once tattooed, pets generally experience minimal or no discomfort from the tattoo site.
Although Microchip devices are a seemingly convenient way to identify animals, their potential dangers and drawbacks seem to outweigh older, but still reliable methods to identify pets. Keeping your pet safe at home shouldn’t involve endangering his health. Tattoos, collars and tags offer safe and healthy alternatives to potentially dangerous implantable devices.
Research and downloadable information http://www.antichips.com/cancer/
National dog registry http://www.nationaldogregistry.com/index.html