From the letters page of Dog World (22nd February 2013)
I am surprised at the widespread blanket acceptance of the recent compulsory microchipping announcement. It seems everyone from the Kennel Club to the Blue Cross and obviously the Veterinary Association welcomes the proposals with open arms. I found it strange that such a monumental move didn’t bring about any dissenting voices. Maybe, I thought, this was one of those rare cases where everyone was ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ but, with a bit of research, I discovered this wasn’t the case.
A quick trawl through the internet showed that a growing number of pet owners – genuine, loving pet owners – were expressing serious misgivings about microchipping their pets and it seemed with good reason.
Microchip implants are marketed as a safe and permanent form of identification and are being ‘pushed’ worldwide. In fact, one pharmaceutical giant boasts that scientific studies prove that microchip implants are “totally painless and perfectly tolerated by the animal”. It also goes on to state “microchips are never rejected by the body”.
However, other scientific tests recorded by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) seemed to disagree with these findings. Tests on mice and rats showed some animals (ranging from 1% to 10%) developed “aggressive and lethal microchip-induced cancerous growths”.
Now, one could say that rats and mice are physiologically different from dogs and I suppose that is indeed true, but, there have also been several cases of dogs (and cats) developing cancers and tumours at the site of implant. The manufacturers state that such a risk is “negligible” but, what if the dog that developed such conditions was yours?
Given that there are around two million dogs needing microchips in England, even taking the lower range of just 1% (from some tests) of microchipped dogs developing tumours/cancer could mean at least 20,000 dogs will be afflicted. How strange then that EFRA just last week called for further sanctions against dog breeders who they said are causing dogs to be bred with ill health yet they remain strangely silent on the potential problems caused by microchipping? Is government-sanctioned ill health and disease acceptable?
Another point which is often denied or dismissed is the movement of these chips. Some say “it is impossible” but chips have been found to migrate. In some cases, they have been found at the base of dogs’ tails and in their rear legs!
I personally do not like the thought of a foreign object being inserted into my dogs and I’m also confused by the rhetoric of microchipping being the panacea to all of dogdom’s ills. Sadly there is an element in our society that will never toe the line. These people won’t comply to having their dogs chipped and it will not make the slightest bit of difference to those postal and health workers getting attacked and it certainly won’t change the conditions these neglected animals are kept in. Most of the strays found wandering the streets aren’t beloved lost pets; they have been dumped intentionally and, now, when this law is brought in, I predict that abuse and neglect cases will indeed soar. If an animal isn’t chipped, will its owner seek veterinary assistance when it falls ill or will he fear prosecution? Those animals that are now dumped will probably be killed and discarded to avoid detection.
I can’t see microchipping changing any of these problems. In fact, I can see it opening up a vile can of worms. Once again, it will be the majority of law-abiding, true dog lovers who will obediently file to their vets to have their precious charges chipped.
However, before you do so, please do your research – arm yourself with knowledge and ask questions. Assurances from vets do not fill me with confidence considering they are still giving out mixed messages over annual vaccinations! If your dog does have a bad reaction to the microchipping process or if the chip moves, let others know about it. One good thing about the modern age is the speed at which we can share information and experiences.
And, to those who say, “well, at least it’s being offered for free”, I’d reply with, “nothing is free in this world”. Big brother is indeed watching all of us and, once everyone’s details are stored on file, wouldn’t that be a rather good precursor to bringing back the Dog Licence?
UPDATE April 2016: Since this article has been written, over 14,000 people have visited the site which highlights the concern felt by many. Catchup with my latest post on the subject HERE.
Also, read more about microchipping at ChipMeNot UK: http://www.chipmenot.org.uk/default.asp