Find Out About Pet Microchips – Protect Your Pet from Pain, Illness and Exploitation
What are the real risks and the benefits of implanting a microchip in a pet? Who should make the decision about the implant and what kind of microchip to use? Our intent here is to provide the person responsible for the care of the pet with information on the risks and adverse effects of pet microchips and programs that are not readily available elsewhere. If you want warm, fuzzy reunification stories, you will not find them here. There are already plenty of those fluff pieces elsewhere. We will tell you of things not so nice.
Microchip identification is promoted as a means of returning a lost pet to it’s owner. Would that not be a matter for a guardian who has a pet at risk for getting lost? So why are there programs mandating them for all? Who is promoting such invasive control of our personal business? It seems that risk assessments done by government agencies and authorities favor security over health and privacy. Is that in the best interest of the pet, their guardian and the community? Who are these microchip zealots and why are they imposing these Draconian mandates on our pets?
One does not have to look far for answers. Acquiring customer data on the Pet Industry is certainly Big Money. The Medical Industry can promote and sell pet microchips without disclosing the harmful side effects because they are pet medical devices. The harmful side effects are marginalized by special interests who advise veterinarian organizations and consumers that the benefits are well worth the risks. The convenience of such a tracking system has appeal. Certainly those who manage animals would want to believe they do no harm.
And who pays for this convenience? Pets and their guardians. Our pets pay with their pain and their health and we pay with our hearts, our privacy and our wealth.
So what can you do about it anyway? We will attempt to answer that here.
It is suggested that pet guardians ask the following questions of the manufacturer before implanting their product in a pet:
What percentage of pets implanted with the pet microchip are ever returned to their owner by that method?
What are the rates of failure, migration and reaction for the microchip implant?
What is the typical inflammatory response to the implant of the microchip in terms of the duration of the acute and recovery phases and does it return to the original level or just within some norm?
What are the specifications for the encapsulants of the microchip and what methods of quality control are used to assure acceptable levels of potential toxins?
What are the specifications for the magnetic potential of the microchip and how do electromagnetic forces effect them?
What are the rates of cancer for pets implanted with the microchip as compared to those without?
We hope guardians who choose to implant their pets will find the information here useful to choose a microchip that would be the safest and what considerations a pet with a microchip needs. There is no lack of information on the subject and it is challenging to organize in a concise manner. Links are provided to references so you can look for yourself and decide. Leave us a comment on the blog if you have something to add. We hope you will take the time to find out what you need to know to protect your pet.
There is a whole lot of Bullchip around about pet microchips.
Who does not have trouble sorting through the information technology has provided to us? Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson knows how difficult this is and makes it her business to empower people with the understanding of the manipulation and misinformation game powered by Big Money.
Anyone who watches TV probably sees advertisements for pharmaceuticals showing a happy family in the sunshine, together because their loved one takes their drug. You would want to take that drug, just to make sure you could be in that picture. But in the background you can hear the side effects and anyone who listened, would only take that drug if it there was no other viable alternative.
We hear the happy reunification stories. But there is no requirement for pet microchip manufacturers to inform consumers of the harmful side effects. The packaging must show only the manufacturer or distributor. The promotions and advertising for these products comes from various sources that cannot be held accountable. So how much is misinformation?
Here are some common Bullchips about pet microchips:
Bullchip 1: A microchip is the size of a grain of rice. It is sometime said to be smaller than a grain of rice. Some will say approximately and they will give you a picture, where that is clearly not true. Various standard pet microchips are reported to be from 11 to 13 mm in length. Half an inch is 12.7 mm. Pet microchips are significantly larger than an average grain of rice. The volume of the microchip in this picture is 3.5 times that of the grain of rice.
Bullchip 2: A microchip is injected just beneath the skin (subcutaneously) and implant causes little pain. Implant technique recommendations have become more invasive to address implant migration failures, calling for injecting microchips into the subcutaneous tissues using specially designed syringes, intentionally causing inflammatory response for the production of scar tissue. Inflammatory responses continue until scar tissue is formed around the chip. Studies on horses are used as the basis for short (three days) inflammatory response claims, while procedures are done on pets including small kittens and puppies. Humans are reporting swelling and bruising at the time of implant, two to four weeks for scar tissue to form and itching and pinching sensations for up to two years.
Bullchip 3: Microchips save lives. Pets that have microchips may be more often returned to their owners after being lost. Shelters may also retrieve more of their rescued pets after bad adoptions as a result of them having microchips. These lives are considered saved. However, the retrievals leave fewer opportunities for adoptions and less space in shelters. At the end of the line, as long as the lost females are spayed, the euthanasia of adoptable pets is all the same.
Bullchip 4: The risk of microchips causing cancer is insignificant. The reporting on tumors is deceptive because reporting is not generally required and only tumors that grow on the microchips are considered. Cancer rate and chronic inflammatory disease studies are missing from the analysis.
Bullchip 5: Microchip implants are passive devices that only activate by a scanner. There are potential hazards from stray electromagnetic fields. The implanted device consists of an antenna, capacitor/tuner and chip. Selective frequencies are allowed to activate the chip that modulates the field in a manner that is interpreted by the scanner as backscatter. The antenna is not a selective receiver and can intercept, generate current with, and re-radiate other electromagnetic waves in the environment even if the chip itself is not activated. The components of pet microchips can consist of ferrous materials and so there are also hazards from MRI and magnets.
Bullchip 6: Microchips consist of electronic components encased in bio-compatible glass. These are the chips most commonly displayed. However, manufacturers have added polymers to bond (interact) with the tissues of the animal to prevent migration. These polymers can contain all kinds of toxins as impurities that migrate to the surface over time. Bio-bond is a porous polypropylene. Datamars has introduced an entirely polymer encapsulated pet microchip with an undisclosed composition. Their patent suggests it is a silicon filled polyester. Parylene C (AKA chlorinated poly-dimethybenzene) has also become a coating for pet microchips, with no cancer studies available.
Bullchip 7: 90% of lost animals would not be recovered without ID. Most lost pets can be recovered by their owners without the use of any form of ID and most lost pets are recovered, as shown by recent surveys. Pet populations with up to 95% of pets implanted with microchips show that fewer than 10% of lost pets with microchips are ever returned to their owner by their chip.
Pet microchips can cause pain and illness through acute and chronic inflammation, toxins in encapsulants and electromagnetic effects. These are significant effects and should not be marginalized.
When a microchip is implanted in a cat or dog they suffer pain through acute inflammation for around three days. The inflammatory response continues for approximately a month until the implant is covered with scar tissue so animals need care and considerations for some time after implant. Implant techniques into the pets tissues and plastic coatings are intentionally designed to be inflammatory, to cause the inflammatory response that covers the microchip with scar tissue. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sites an independent study on beagles where only 87 of 90 implants formed the scar tissue. So what happens with the inflammatory response when no scar tissue forms? Does it never start or never stop? So how much does the microchip implant increase the level of inflammation in a pet?
The plastics used as sleeves or to coat or encapsulate microchips can contain toxins that migrate to the surface over time, releasing into the pet. Parylene C is chlorinated poly-dimethybenzene and so benzene would be incorporated into the polymer chain. One should consider the ways that benzene causes cancer when considering the safety of the polymer as well as any impurities in parylene C. Promoters will tell you it is safe, that it is inert. Being inert is also one of the outstanding characteristics of Benzene.
Plastics are also used in place of glass. Patents held by one manufacturer of such a microchip describe plastic encapsulants as silicone with a polyester sheath. There are no substantial regulations and little restriction on what materials can be implanted in a pet as a microchip coating or encapsulant.
Cancer studies on these materials may not actually be useful because the impurities in them depend a lot on how they are manufactured. The pet microchip industry has virtually no regulation. Specifications and quality controls are left to the manufacturers discretion.
These plastic coatings are said to be put on pet microchips to prevent migration, a major failure of the microchip system. There are no third party studies that show any of them actually do that. The use of such coatings leads to questions about experimentation.
Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid. It can contain impurities also. Although the diffusion of them to the surface is very slow, there are still issues. Lead is commonly added to glass to make it easier to process. What are the protections from the use of lead in the glass of pet microchips? Just what is bio-compatible glass? One manufacturer gives heavy metal specifications for their pet microchip transponder glass as, “The heavy metal content for the elements lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium is below 100 ppm.” That would be 0.01%. Does the pet guardian know to ask for specifications on the glass used for their pet’s microchip? And just what should they be?
Pet microchips can be made with ferrous materials that give them magnetic potential. Human microchip tests for magnetic potential are described in the FDA Guidelines. Pet guardians are not advised of the dangers, here. Are they warned not to use magnetic pain therapy for their pets? The AVMA reports that surrounding tissue is not damaged during MRI, but conflicting reports exist elsewhere and MRI manufacturers give warnings. There are questions about MRI safety due to movement, also. Pets should have more rigorous standards for magnetic potential than humans. But they have none. There are no regulations on magnetic potential for pet microchips. The magnetic potential of three different microchips are shown in the following:
Claims that pet microchips are passive, activating only when scanned may be in part true about the actual microchip but the implant also has an antenna. The antenna is not a selective receiver and can intercept, generate current with, and re-radiate other electromagnetic waves in the environment. If the wave received by the antenna is tuned out before the microchip, it is simply re-radiated. Electromagnetic waves in our environment are of health concerns as they can cause oxidative stress to our cells . Implanting a microchip, that has an antenna, in a pet would need to be considered as to having an adverse effect on their health.
There are standards for pet microchip implant sites, radio frequencies and scanners, but none that protect pets from toxins in encapsulants or set limits for magnetic potentials and electromagnetic effects.
Adverse events reported relating to pet microchip implants include chip failure, migration, abnormal mass and tumor formation, infection, rejection and death at levels higher than originally believed (see Background).
Medical microchips implanted in a sick person to manage or cure illness can benefit their health. Implanting microchips in an otherwise healthy animal only creates illness.
We are told that the benefit of the pet microchip system is to return the pet to it’s guardian and protect them from being euthanized in shelters or otherwise lost to them. It is also used to hold people accountable for pets that do harm. How many will actually benefit from this? With all the data collected, we are presented with virtually no hard facts. Some companies will tell you how many reunions they have had, but they avoid the issue of how many pets with microchips were lost and never found. Available surveys suggest that the information on pet loss is accurate, but that the percentage of lost pets found by microchip ID is actually quite low. It is an issue of perception and a game of lost and found pets that the microchip industry uses to frighten people into overlooking the harmful side effects of microchips and implanting them in their pets.
We look at two surveys to tell us what is happening. One set of surveys is done by The Dogs Trust of the United Kingdom, covering the compulsory implant of dogs there. The other is a 2012 ASPCA survey. The UK focus is on found dogs. The ASPCA survey is on lost pets. These two studies highlight the difference between the pets that people lose and the pets that the authorities find. Another issue to watch is the time basis as being annual or some other length of time such as over the lifetime of a pet. The lifetime basis is confusing because pets and strays have different life expectancies. We will use 14 years in our calculations. The other issue is how percentages and fractions of the population are portrayed.
The United Kingdom has made microchip implant, registration and adverse event reporting compulsory for approximately 8.5 million dogs. It went into effect starting in 2015. Proponents announced the success of the program in 2017. They reported 95% of the population implanted and reductions in strays and euthanasia. However, the data in their report shows a annual benefit from microchip implant to be only about 0.2% of the dogs in the UK and the success of the program actually came from spay/neuter programs that were ramped up as the mandates were imposed. (See The Betrayal of Dogs Trust).
The UK surveys show a microchip recovery benefit of less than 3% for an average dog, over its lifetime.
How this translates to reduced euthanasia is questionable because returns reduce adoptions. There is a difference between the macro effects on the population and the micro effects of how the return to owner of an individual dog is impacted by microchip implant. If the owner of a lost pet adopts another pet when they cannot find their original pet, there is no macro effect on euthanasia due to overpopulation. However, the individual pet with a microchip that is more likely to be returned to owner has some survival advantage over a pet that must rely on adoption under such circumstances. In a no-kill community, that advantage in minimal.
With the population reduction, the euthanasia rate had dropped to 3%. If the return to owner benefit is not offset by reduced adoption, it amounts to a euthanasia benefit of 0.007% of the population on an annual basis (approximately 600 dogs). Over the lifetime of a dog, there would be a 3% return to owner benefit and a 0.09% euthanasia benefit to an individual dog. So a dog may be lost, but not likely euthanized as the UK system is already a no-kill system by US standards.
Those who want to believe in microchip magic for stray population control may harbor beliefs that there are undocumented returns to owner going on that have reduced the stray population. However, the methods used in the surveys done in the UK include the returns done outside the shelter system and give it as 1/3 of the total. There is also an ASPCA survey in which those are covered.
In the UK survey, approximately 95% of the population is implanted with a microchip. In the ASPCA survey 20% of the lost pets had microchips. Both surveys show similar return benefits from ID.
A 2012 survey of approximately 1,015 pet guardians reported by the ASPCA also gives an idea of how many pets benefit from having ID. According to the data in the study, less than 2% of pets would have recovery benefit from mandated microchip implant ID over their lifetime. It is reported that 14% of dogs and 15% of cats may get lost in a 5 year period. On a 14 year basis, the data in the study shows that 39% get lost, 30% get recovered without ID, 3% get recovered by ID, and an additional 2% might be recovered if they had ID. There are 4% not recovered that did have microchip ID.
Approximately 85% of the lost pets are recovered by various methods. Even without recovery by ID, the recovery of lost pets is 76%. Dogs were mostly found by neighborhood search and returns and cats mostly found their own way home.
The ASPCA Survey recovery rate of lost pets without ID of 76% is a whole lot different than the 10% implied by HomeAgain claims that 90% of lost animals would not be recovered without ID. The company has been in the pet microchip business for decades and boasts of 2 million reunions, not specifying the time range or geography. Nor do they tell you how many pets have been in their database. They claim to reunite 14,000 pets with their owners every month. However, that rate reflects only 0.04% per year of the pet population. Are they selling bullchips?
The ASPCA study includes household with multiple pets and pets that get lost multiple times. The data is based on the number of pets. Data from the study on lost and recovered pets is summarized as follows :
Survey of 5 Year Period
Neighborhood (Search & Return)
Lost, % of Total Survey
Recovered, % of Survey
The information in the ASPCA study is based on 5 years and we will adjust it to 14 years as the average pet lifespan, in our discussions to be on the same basis as advertised loss percentages typically given as 30-40%. The data suggests that 3% of pets would be recovered by ID over an average 14 year lifetime and 6% of pets would remained lost. Would those 6% benefit from having ID?
The data from the study shows that 36 of the 184 lost pets had microchips, but does not show how many recovered pets had them. With some small discrepancy in the survey data, it appears that all 16 pets recovered by ID had microchips and that the other 20 pets with microchips were among the 28 pets that were not recovered. The data shows 72% of the lost pets had ID and 20% had microchips. If all pets recovered by ID were recovered by their microchip ID, it would indicate a microchip recovery rate of 44% for the lost pets in the study. However, only 8 of the unrecovered pets did not have ID, so the potential gain for having all pets with ID is only 1.7% over an average 14 year life of a pet. If microchip recovery rates are applied, that is less than 1%.
So with 3% recovered by ID and 6% remaining missing what is happening? What happened to those 20 pets with microchip implants and 8 that did not? Maybe someone found them and just decided to keep them. There are many possibilities.
But it is a sad fact that the reason many animals are not recovered is death on the roadways. It is reported that 1.2 million dogs and 5.4 million cats are killed each year in the US. Considering a pet population of 184 million, that could be estimated as 300 million including stray and feral cats and dogs, that comes to 2% per year and a chilling 31% over the average life of a pet. We think this sounds a bit high. But insurance companies track road accidents with larger animals like deer and Wikipedia cites 1.25 million insurance claims per year for large animals. These numbers more than explain the pets not recovered in the ASPCA survey and exceeds the US annual euthanasia rates of 0.67 million dogs and 0.86 million cats.
Pets lost to death on the roadway is something pet microchip promoters do not figure in the potential benefit of pet microchips. The ASPCA study suggests that the pet loss in the roadway could be as high as 5% over the lifetime of a pet. The majority of cats and dogs lost in the roadway would be stray and feral to make up to the 31%.
Pet guardians should not be given the a false sense of security to allow their pets to roam. No form of ID will protect them on the roadway.
So in summary, the ASPCA survey shows 39% of pets get lost during their lifetime, 30% get recovered without ID, 3% get recovered by ID, and an additional 1-2% could be recovered if they had ID but 4-5% are not recovered. The study does not say what type of ID the pet was recovered by. The potential microchip recovery benefit indicated by the ASPCA study is 1% – 5%, certainly consistent with the 2% – 3% observed in the UK surveys.
HomeAgain Claims that 33% of pets get lost (during their lifetime) and 90% of the lost pets will not be recovered without ID.
The ASPCA study says 39% of pets get lost during their lifetime and 24% of the lost pets will not be recovered without ID.
HomeAgain reunites pets with their owners every month (14,000)
To make the first two statements consistent, you either need to use a very short lifetime or a global population. If you use the 184 million for the USA population, the lifespan is only 6 years. We will assume the 14 year lifespan and then their population basis would be 420,000,000 pets. Then the 10 million annual pet loss is 2.4% and we would agree. So the 10 million per year pet loss appears to be a global number. The 14,000 pets per month comes to 168,000 pets per year of the 10,000,000 lost of the total population of 420,000,000 pets. So they think we should implant 420 million pets to improve the 0.04% per year that benefit from the HomeAgain microchip system, to what? The UK data suggests the potential improvement is no more than 0.2% per year of the total population. So you would recover 840,000 pets per year with the entire world pet population implanted with microchips. That is 8.4% of lost pets. The 90% claim is just plain fear mongering Bullchips.
And if this all sounds like double talk, that’s because it is. The microchip claims do not address the question of how many lost pets will get recovered by their microchip ID. So why do they avoid clearly stating what the benefit of their product is ?
The UK lifetime return to owner benefit is around 3% and if 30-40% of the UK dogs get lost during their lifetime, the recovery rate is less than 10% of lost dogs who have microchips. Maybe this is why microchip companies are not publishing their rates of return of lost pets with microchips? Other surveys indicate it is over 30%. If you are not confused by now, you have not been paying attention. It is a shell game of lost and found pets. So we will create the case of Community X where pets are lost and found to illustrate the game.
Community X has 1,000,000 pets. 40% of them get lost over an average lifetime of 14 years. 75% of lost pets are easily returned without ID, by such as neighborhood returns (dogs) and self returns (cats) and 10% are returned by various ID. Let’s assume all pets and 30% of strays have microchips and 3% of the total pet population will be returned by that method, with external microchip returns of 30% of the shelter microchip returns.
Community X –
Total Pets 1,000,000
14 Year (Lost)
Annual Shelter (Found)
Easily Returned W/O ID
Easily Returned by Tag ID
Returned by MC ID
Recovered by Misc
Strays W/O Owner
Although our case is hypothetical, it is consistent with both surveys on lost and found pets. While it may be true that 30-40% of pets get lost during their lifetime, when that basis is used, the microchip recovery rate is very low because most are returned without even scanning for a microchip. There are surveys that say the pet microchip return rate is around 30-40% but that is for found pets, not lost pets. The microchip recovery rate for lost pets is around 10% and the benefit to a pet over an average lifetime is only around 3%. With the benefit well established, the higher the lost pet rate claimed by microchip promotions, the lower the lost pet recovery rate is. So it is something they just do not talk about.
It is only some of the “Never Recovered” pets who may become part of the stray population and the split shown in the hypothetical case is somewhat arbitrary and would be for a shelter with a 98% save rate 😊. But if the shelter cannot adopt out and TNVR enough pets, it may be lower than that. “Never Recovered” pets live as strays or shelter residents, find another home or get adopted or they perish by euthanasia, disease, predators or road deaths. But the numbers are just not there for them to be the main source of the overpopulation problem. The following diagrams the flow of lost pets and shows the interaction with strays.
In Community X, only 2, 862 of the 26,862 pets that pass through the shelter system are lost pets. The majority of pets that become problems and enter the shelter system are predominantly pets that do not have guardians so returns to owner just do not work for the majority of them.
The differences between lost and found pets are used to bias animal rescues and shelters into believing microchip implants are universally beneficial. The numbers advertised are for lost pets and microchip recoveries perceived are for found pets. Perceptions in shelters and veterinaries are further biased because microchip recoveries require readers that the general public does not have to do the returns without bringing them into those places.
Medical microchips are an emerging industry. The microchip was invented in 1959. Some of the first human implants were demonstrated in 1998. The FDA classified their use as Class II Medical Devices in October 2004 and they have been implanted in humans as such since 2006. However, the FDA official involved in their classification was later became a highly paid employee of the first company approved for the classification. The industry has been plagued by questions of integrity and a lack of due diligence for regulation and cancer review. False advertising is pervasive as FDA health risk labeling recommendations for humans are not required for pets.
Animal testing has been conducted since at least the 1980’s. Adverse event reporting has been inconsistent, with no mandatory reporting throughout the world until recently. Some earlier data is available through the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA). The AVMA summarizes the BSAVA voluntary adverse reaction reports on their website. It shows 391 adverse events reported for a period of 1996 through 2009 relating to 3.7 million registered pets with microchip implants. Of the 391 adverse events, 301 were migration (includes lost), 36 failed and 54 were reactions. That would indicate an event rate of 1 out of 9,462 implants, commonly sited as 1 in 10,000 and generally dismissed as insignificant. The AVMA does not make their own risk assessment, but references the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
While it is not possible to claim that the reaction to an implanted transponder in a companion animal will NEVER induce tumour formation, the Committee is unanimously of the opinion that the benefits available to implanted animals far outweigh any possible risk to the health of the animal concerned.
The position statement also takes exception on the registries:
The benefits of transponder implantation, backed up with a reliable, accurate and available database, far outweigh this risk.
Adverse Event reporting in the UK became mandatory with the mandatory microchip implant of Dogs. The UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) assumed the task of adverse event reporting there in April 2014. Mandatory microchip implant of dogs and mandatory adverse event reporting went into effect in England in February of 2015 and in Scotland and Wales in April of 2016.
The first summary report was issued for the period of April 2014 through December 2015 and dismisses the adverse events as “very low” despite their data that showed a mandatory reporting rate that was approximately seven times higher than the voluntary rate. The 2014 voluntary data shows 28 reports in 8 months (10.25 reports/month) for a population that would have had between 60% and 86% of dogs implanted. This is compared to the mandatory implant and reporting of the 2017 data with 1,044 reports (87 reports/month) with 95% of the dogs implanted, for a factor of approximately seven.
The recent UK adverse events associated with microchip implant appear to be significantly higher than the original voluntary data that was the basis for the WSAVA position on pet microchips. The data through the end of 2018 is shown below. The estimate for the total cat and dog population of the UK is 16 million with 8.5 million dogs subject to mandatory microchip implant. Mandatory microchip implant for dogs throughout the UK took effect February 2015 through April 2016. The total number of implants is not tracked. To do a good comparison to the earlier data for risk assessment, information should be collected over a similar time period, however, the data to date gives us fair estimates that indicate it is approximately ten times higher than the earlier data that has been used for many risk/benefit analysis.
The Reactions include rejection, infection, abnormal mass and tumor formation and death.
The adverse event data is available at the links on the date Period
Based on 8.5 million dogs, 95% implanted, the adverse event rate for them would be 1 in 1,839. Taking the 2018 dog rate to make a 14 year period, would make a total of 8,441 dog adverse events and would indicate an adverse event rate of 1 in 957 to compare to the earlier data.
The BSAVA, the UK VMD, the AVMA and the WSAVA are not reporting on these statistics.
Adverse Events may yet be underestimated by early deaths from the inflammatory burden of the microchip that increases vulnerability to infectious and inflammatory diseases.
THE BETRAYAL OF DOGS TRUST
The Dogs Trust, a major UK humane organization, initiated a campaign in 2009 for the mandatory microchip implant of all dogs there that went into effect starting in 2015. Their 2017 annual report and their 2017 report on stray dogs announces the successful reduction in stray dog and attributes it to the microchip implant mandate, despite their direct involvement in spay/neuter programs that they do not mention, that were more likely to be the actual cause of the reductions in strays, thus setting a pattern of deception that has become prevalent in promoting mandated programs all over the world. Their report shows the following history for stay dogs in the UK
And the following data is taken from their other reports for UK strays and the services they provided that relate to the trend. Spay/neuter is obviously in use and is never mentioned in Dogs Trust Report on Strays, yet it is known to reduce stray populations. One other aspect of the data that is interesting is that there is substantial correlation between the Microchip and Neutered services so that it is statistically difficult to prove which caused the improvement, especially with population effects that have lags. But in this case the spay/neuter produced results too soon for them to be plausibly claimed by the microchip mandate.
It takes one more chart from the Dogs Trust report on stray dogs, combined with an edited version of the chart above, to tell the story of what really happened to the dogs in the UK when the Dogs Trust launched their Microchip Campaign in 2009 and mandates for microchip implants into them became mandatory starting in February 2015. Neuter services effect intake (population) while microchip returns to owner effect the disposition of the dogs (reunions).
The number of spay/neuter services provided were increased until they reached the point where the stray population went into significant decline starting in 2014. It was even further increased through the end of 2015. When the microchip mandate started going into effect in February 2015, it did not result in an increase in the number of dogs returned to their owner because the stray population was already in decline.
After 2014, total returns to owner improved only as a percentage of a declining stray population. The number of dogs returned to owner by microchip ID actually declined during the period before, during and after the mandate was implemented. Microchip returns to owner dropped slightly less than the population dropped during the 2014 through 2018 period of rapid population drop so that would show an increase as a percentage of the stray population, also. The most improvement that could be attributed to microchip implant would be a return benefit of 0.2% and a euthanasia benefit to 0.007% of the UK dog population, annually. That would be about 600 dogs. And that would be likely offset somewhat by reduced adoption. Considering the millions of dogs that were implanted to achieve that, it would be much more cost effective to establish and maintain effective spay/neuter programs.
Dogs Trust also ignored the increase in their shelter deaths that occurred when the mandate was implemented. With a decrease in the stray population, there should be more resources for them and their conditions should improve, but that does not appear to be what happened. The death rates of shelter dogs has gone on the increase. Shelter death is an issue in itself and as an indicator of the general health of the general population.
Any illness or death coincident with a microchip implant is subject to mandatory reporting. Yet they seem to dismiss all of them as just another death in the shelter.
Year Ending March 31st
The 2018 shelter death rate is the highest of their last 10 years and the 2019 deaths show another 10% increase. While there are reports of reports no longer available that Dogs Trust has had as many as 334 death in 2007(2008), the number of dogs cared for was given as 16,177 so the rate of death was lower at 0.0206, making 2019 the highest death rate on any record we could find.
The average shelter deaths rates from 2009-2015 as compared to 2017-2018 show an increase of 57 dog deaths per year in the Dogs Trust shelters. For the year ending March 31, 2018 only 35% of stays had microchip implants so they would be implanted in the shelter system. Based on the Dogs Trust intake of strays (6,452 dogs), they would have implanted approximately 4,194 microchips. If 57 dogs died as a result, that would be a death rate of 1 per 74 implants, or 1.4%. If applied to the 40% of strays that probably entered the entire UK shelter system in 2018, that would be 314 dog deaths probably associated with microchip implant. Yet there appears to be no such adverse event reports made as required by the dog microchip mandate laws.
If the deaths in the shelter are not occurring in direct association with the implant, this raises more ominous questions about the effect the implant of microchips has on the general population. Is this an increased vulnerability to, and transmission of infectious disease? Is it some effect of the inflammatory burden of the microchip? Inflammatory markers can be measured. There are those who say, once a pet is implanted with a microchip, the markers never return to baseline. Do implants cause dogs to have more behavioral problems? Who will stand up for the dogs of the UK? Who will protect our pets?
There also appears to be a disturbing aspect to what is going on with the reduction in spay/neuter after the implementation of the the microchip mandate. Have they cut back on spay/neuter programs because they know that reductions in the population and euthanasia also negate the return benefits of the microchip? The histories say that the 2017 and 2018 levels are too low. It will be a dangerous backfire if the stray population starts to grow again. But then, it will create plenty of customers for microchip implant. The seed money has been spent, who will pay from here?
We are still awaiting the publication of the Dogs Trust Stray Dog Survey for the year ending March 31, 2019. What is happening with the stray population? Extrapolation suggests it could fall to 50,000 dogs or so, but who knows when the effects of the reduction in spay/neuter services will kick in? Maybe this year, maybe next. And will the UK be left with a growing population of increasingly ill dogs? In past years the Dogs Trust Stray Dog Survey has been issued in September, but this year they tell us it will not be until November. Trick or Treat?
How did this mandate even get passed? It was never brought up in a General Election. Our friends in the UK give us this answer:
The micro-chipping has been brought in via regulations in the UK. This meant that no MPs had to vote for the policy, it just went through as a “Statutory Instrument” and if no MPs spoke out against it, then it just sails though. That is what happened.
We have been shocked by how willing so may people have been to chip a member of their family and at this time there appears to be no political will to overturn such awful regulations.
So who is Sir Chris Laurence and how could he be allowed to harm so many? Microchips produced by PAC members shown in the link above are associated with approximately 48% of the adverse events reported 2016-2018.
The CEO of the Dogs Trust passed away unexpectedly on October 31, 2018 and the organization may be going through some adjustment. We hope to see some answers to our questions about why this organization has been promoting this program the way it has and hope to see some more information about the benefits of spay/neuter.
Adverse effects relating to cancer that have been validated are tumors that actually grow on the microchips. Reporting tumors or other adverse events associated with pet microchips to the Veterinary FDA is not mandatory. Four veterinarians were involved in treating this dog for cancer and never reported the tumor as an adverse microchip implant event. Most pet guardians do not know that they can make the reports.
The incidence of tumors growing on the chips is rare. But despite the existence of these tumors, there are no known accepted, published studies on how the cancer rates of cats and dogs with microchips compare with those who do not have them. Although it appears that pet cancer may be on the rise, pet microchips are not being scrutinized. Pet cancer is actually not a reportable illness and there is apparently no third party surveillance for it. Pet data remains obscured by a lack of standardized reporting, yet a lack of proof of harm is used by promoters to validate the safety of microchips for pets and people.
What we do know is the pet cancer treatment industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Their projections are partly based on the, ” rising prevalence of pet cancer.”.
Major manufactures distributing pet microchip products in the United States include Datamars, Trovan, AVID, Altifex and Destron Fearing/Digital Angel. Dozens of other suppliers have entered the market over recent years with various products of unknown origin. These products are mainly distributed through non-profit pet identification registries with volunteers who are not trained or knowledgeable about the technology or adverse effects. AVID won a lawsuit against Datamars in 2004 for technology infringement and making false advertising claims that harmed consumers, yet they dominate the market of today with the same practices.
With the pet microchip industry essentially unregulated, microchip mandates for animals can be used to provided a corridor for the industry to use our pets as test subjects for risky products without consent or compensation. New products can be introduced into the microchip market without notice. These products are frequently made available at low cost so that the product can be field tested. Destron-Fearing set the precedent for polymer coating part of the microchip with a polypropylene cap over 20 years ago. The polymer is supposed to be medical grade polypropylene that could be a simple hydrocarbon polymer that would have minimal impurities and additives. But now there are microchips on the market that are coated with Parylene C, a plastic coating that is basically chlorinated poly-dimethylbenzene. It appears to have been introduced without cancer testing. Such a microchip is being promoted by a UK microchip producer called Pet-ID Microchips who supplied microchips for the UK dog mandates.
Merck Animal Health, who has distributed the Destron-Fearing polypropylene cap for years under the brand of HomeAgain, now offers the smaller Parylene C coated microchip to consumers.
Datamars currently manufacturers “the only bio-polymer microchip in the market” that is being used on our pets. They claim it is FDA approved, but do not say what for. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine has no knowledge of the product. They also have claims it is USDA approved and we suspect this may have something to do with the 840 chip that may be a USDA registry. This does not appear to be pet microchip and we are investigating. The plastic Datamars microchip is sold on the internet, represented as a glass microchip. Datamars, a Swiss livestock management company, appears to dominate the UK market, based on the adverse event reporting. Their 2007 pet microchip patent includes a plastic microchip that is described as a silicon filled pet microchip with a polyester sheath, but other plastics are also referenced. It was registered with ICAR in May 2012 and the North American division started promoting it for sale around 2014. The Datamars manufacturer code is 981, the plastic microchip ICAR product code is 981002. The plastic microchip appears to be sold with transponder numbers starting 98102, which is assigned to the distributor Bayer resQ. The Veterinary FDA has reported it has done no review. It is currently being sold on the internet without disclosing to consumers that it is not glass encapsulated. So far as we can tell, the only thing in the packaging that distinguishes the plastic pet microchip from their glass product besides the transponder number is the orange cap used on the syringe. That is not what is shown in the pictures on one sellers website. There is vague reference made to the fact that it is other than a standard glass microchip, but no say of how besides it’s smaller size. The consumer would otherwise have to discharge the microchip for inspection or measure the diameter of the syringe tip and research the microchip to know it is not a glass encapsulated microchip.
One of the interesting features of the Datamars plastic microchip is how it appears in an x-ray. Samples of a HomeAgain and Datamars plastic microchip are below the cat. The Datamars microchip is below the R.
In case you are having some trouble seeing it, here is a 10X view.
If there seems to be some problem with the contrast of the Datamars microchip that may be because it has a silicon filled plastic sheath instead of a thin walled glass cylinder. The glass does not appear in the HomeAgain sample, but may have some image qualities as seen when implanted. Just hope your pet does not need to have the Datamars microchip removed.
If anyone has or knows of an x-ray image of this Datamars microchip implanted in a pet, we would appreciate it if you left a note on the blog.
Datamars manufactures a glass microchip and a plastic microchip under the same transponder numbers starting 981. Such transponder numbers dominate the UK Adverse Event reporting at approximately 30% of the 2016 through 2018 adverse events. That would indicate they either have problematic technology or a high participation rate in the mandatory microchip programs there. How many of the dogs in the UK were implanted with the plastic Datamars microchip?
Third party studies, including the polypropylene cap microchip, indicate that the cap does not prevent or reduce migration. The 2016 – 2018 UK Adverse Events that are related to the Destron-Fearing polypropylene microchip (transponder numbers starting 985) accounts for approximately 9.1% of the migration events (some by this number may be parylene C). While it cannot be determined from this if the cap reduces migration or not, it can be said that they do not prevent it. The relative number of migrations to failures is lower than the rest of the dataset, but the relative number of reactions is higher.
The Parylene C coated Pet-ID Microchip (transponder number starting 958) accounts for approximately 7.2% of the migration events and has a higher number of migrations relative to failures.
Reduction of the size of a standard glass microchip is limited by the thickness of the glass required to prevent moisture intrusion and microchip failure. It may be that migration has nothing to do with the marketing of the parlene C coated microchip. Parlene C is actually of interest as a coating on implants as an excellent moisture barrier. It is essential for the glass mini-chip. And now it is being promoted for our pets without first establishing the long term safety. Who will warn the guardians of our pets? Who will protect our pets from exploitation as test subjects for these questionable products?
BROKEN INFORMATION CHAIN
The FDA guidance document that is part of the human microchip classification determination lists the potential risks to health associated with microchips. Cancer risk was not considered in the FDA review. The recommended labeling for human microchips to mitigate the health risk are warnings about:
Manufacturers distribute their products through non-profit registries to veterinarians and pet owners directly. They are required to label with manufacturer and/or distributors information, but generally contain no health effects warnings as this is not actually required.
So when is the pet owner informed? How is the public informed? Do our public information programs include these FDA warnings and health risks? Would pet microchips become an adoptability issue if they were recognized as a health liability?
THE PROBLEMS WITH MICROCHIP MANDATES
Microchip mandates do not solve euthanasia problems from pet overpopulation and detract from resources that could be used towards spay/neuter programs that do. There is considerable misinformation promoted throughout pet shelter programs by special interests who would have people believe that microchip ID reduces the euthanasia of adoptable pets. They create the misconception by tying microchip implant programs to spay/neuter programs through shelter grant programs and subsequently take credit for reductions in euthanasia from spay/neuter programs for microchip implant programs. These are harmful misconceptions that lead to improper utilization of resources and more pet deaths.
We see how this was done in the UK. The Dogs Trust, a major UK humane organization that promoted the mandatory microchip implant of all dogs there, declared the program a success and is expanding internationally. They had direct involvement in spay/neuter programs that were more likely to be the actual cause of the reductions in strays. But there was no mention of that. The adverse event reporting that showed those to be 10X the voluntary rates used for the original risk/benefit analysis, was marginalized and they ignored the increase in their shelter deaths that occurred when the mandate was implemented. It was a betrayal of dogs trust. (See also, The Betrayal of Dogs Trust)
While spay/neuter programs reduce the pet population, microchip programs are about increased pet ownership and “making pet owners responsible”. One spay can prevent a dozen unsustainable births a year while it takes hundreds of pet microchip implants to get one pet returned to its owner. Spay/neuter programs reduce the public financial burden for pet care, while microchip implants increase it. The statistics are frightening and show the pet population growing at 10 million pets per year. That is 4X the rate of human population growth.
The ASPCA itself posts some fuel for such misinformation about microchip versus spay/neuter benefits. The ASPCA says statistics show euthanasia rates are dropping. They show a reduction of 1.1 million per year since 2011. The post on their website attributes the drop partially to improved returns to owner and improved adoptions. But there is really only 0.4 million of the reduction that should be attributed to such. The data on their page also shows that 0.7 million on the 1.1 million reduction is in reduced intake. Reduced intake is generally attributed to spay/neuter programs, but that is not mentioned anywhere on the page. How is it they do not mention the most important spay/neuter programs in their statistics on euthanasia? Microchip proponents would attribute the reduced intake to returns to owner made outside the shelter system and would claim it as the success of the microchip system. They would claim the 0.7 million reduction in intake as increased returns to owner. Yet they know this is not the case their own 2012 survey shows the potential is not there. And the flaw in the claim of attributing reduced intake to improved returns to owner in this case is that improved returns reduce adoptions and they are claiming both are occurring. If returns to owner and pet adoptions are both improved, there would be an increase in pet ownership that would actually be the cause of the reduced euthanasia. Certainly the pet population growth is many times the euthanasia reduction. The ASPCA must be aware that this is unsustainable, yet they continue to pander to pet microchip interests along with other humane organizations.
Euthanasia of adoptable pets occurs when the pet population grows too fast. The only way to change that without increased deaths is to reduce the births through spay/neuter. There is no getting around that. When the population is controlled and euthanasia is not a threat, returning a pet to the owner it left does not save it’s life. It may even find a better one through adoption to someone else.
Yet another indication that microchip programs do not bring significant population control benefits for dogs and cats comes from the Shelter Animal Count. California has mandatory microchip laws for cats and dogs since 2011. As of June 1, 2019 their data shows 34-35 % more strays in California based on intake and 37-51% based on human population, than the rest of the nation. It also shows a lower rate of return per stray. And worst of all, the save rates are poorer. So why are these programs still being promoted?
2018 Shelter Data
Strays (Strays & At Large)
Returns to Owner
Returns per Stray
Stray per Intake
Death per Intake
Euthanasia per Intake
Population, 1,000 People
Strays per 1,000 People
Microchip technology does not stand on it’s own merits and has not been readily adopted by pet owners and the microchip special interests have been promoting mandates through pet shelter programs. Maddies Fund Best Practice (page 15) recommendations includes forcing mandates on the public through local ordinances and enforcing them through the shelter programs by refusing to release or return a pet unless it is implanted with a microchip. Here is one really ugly example of a humane society incentivizing microchip implant by preferentially euthanizing dogs without microchips:
You will find, more and more, that communities become surreptitiously mandated to implant microchips in their pets. You will find, more and more, rescues that will not return or adopt out a pet not implanted with a microchip. Why are so many shelters becoming microchip mills? Humane societies are simply getting huge amounts of funding from the microchip industry and special interests to microchip pets and get pet owners enrolled in registries.
Are microchip programs about animal welfare or have they become an abuse of animal rights? When you go to adopt a pet, ask questions.
The adverse health effects of pet microchips on feral cats who are implanted actually creates a need to TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return) more cats for it to be effective for population control. There are multiple means of pet identification that do not cause pain, illness and exploitation.
Microchips mandates cause more problems than they solve. In summary:
Early risk assessments were underestimated. The pet microchip industry is essentially unregulated, making it full of risk and liability. The safety of pet microchips is persistently misrepresented by the manufacturers and distributors. Enforceable standards for safety do not exist. Pet guardians are not accurately informed of the health risks. Adverse events are observed in the UK at approximately 0.1%
The benefits of microchip implant are smaller than advertised.
Survey of the results of implanting 95% of the 8.5 million dogs in the UK with microchips shows only 0.2% of dogs annually returned to owner by microchip ID and a 3% return benefit to an individual dog over its lifetime. The euthanasia benefit observed was approximately 600 dogs/year (0.007%).
An ASPCA published survey shows that 76% of lost pets can be recovered without any form of ID.
Compliance with the mandatory microchip laws is costly. Manufactures market risky microchips for field testing and low quality microchips at low cost to shelters and humane organizations trying to manage costs on a low budget, under mandates.
Pet overpopulation is best managed with spay/neuter programs and TNVR for cat feral populations.
Implanting a microchip in a pet:
is an unessential procedure that compounds risks and interferes with procedures for essential public health vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures that are essential to population control.
influences the individual circumstances of the pet, but does not substantially affect the bottom-line euthanasia rates of adoptable pets in communities where overpopulation is an issue.
Pet microchip mandates:
provide manufacturers with opportunity and protections to use our pets for nonconsensual experimentation as they can distribute unconventional, risky and harmful microchips, without notice or labeling.
create a hostile environment for pets and pet owners who know the risks and would chose not to implant a microchip in their pet.
should include mandatory adverse event reporting and a liberal medical exception or otherwise be revoked.
Alternatives to microchips for pet identification exist that do not involve pet health risks, pain and exploitation. The key to good pet identification and retrieval systems is the registry.
COMPOUNDED VETERINARY PROCEDURES
There is a common belief that pet microchips are safe to implant in kittens as young as two months that weighs at least two pounds. There is also a common belief that it is safe to sterilize a kitten at that age. It has furthermore become practice to do these two procedures at the same time, particularly when there is a mandate for microchip implant. Shelter animals seem to be the target of these procedures and many of the kittens and puppies are also at higher risk as orphans. And they also need their vaccinations. Little consideration appears to be given to the level of risks accumulating with all these veterinary procedures or elements of experimentation and cruelty.
The rapidly developing medical fields of inflammatory and auto-immune diseases identifies the health risks of these procedures and how they promote disease. Inflammatory and auto-immune illness is a valid basis for medical exemption from vaccination, including rabies. The impact of too many procedures too soon may well be that our pets are not just less healthy, they may become less safe.
As important as spay/neuter programs are, for population control, one has to wonder why veterinarians would jeopardize these programs by compounding the procedure with the microchip implant. It is the microchip industry that claims their products are so painless that it can be done on juveniles without anesthesia. However, unofficial reports are that these animals go into shock when this is actually done and they suffer considerably. Why do they not address the issues of pain and harm instead of compromising their spay/neuter programs? How are people convinced to go along with this? And so they think they are fixing this by combining it with spay/neuter and using pain killers?
And what is most disturbing of all, is a lack of responsibility on the part of the veterinary community to follow up on the long term effects of the original AVMA 2008 endorsement of pediatric spay/neuter and survey their outcomes for both the pediatric spay/neuter and the compounded microchip procedure. We see them all around now, cats balding from their eyebrows to their ears. That is NOT normal. You can see a picture of beautiful Zela of the 2017/2018 Alley Cat Alley Calendar. It is not so much an appearance thing as it is the discomfort of the course fur and dry skin. Dermal and digestive issues, allergies and inflammatory illness, poor resistance to infections? Where are the surveys of the outcomes?
Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return (TNVR) has become a proven means of reducing cat overpopulation. As the cat is not just a predator, but is also prey in the wildlife system, consideration must be given in both respects. Concerns over TNVR cats as predators have generally been disproved. However, cruelty concerns about them as prey also exist. Feral cats do poorly in captivity and must be returned as soon as possible after veterinary procedures are performed, even though they may still be vulnerable. To add the unnecessary veterinary procedure of implanting a microchip to the more essential procedure of vaccination, spay/neuter and eat tipping leaves them more vulnerable as prey and raises cruelty issues.
The management of feral cat overpopulation is a daunting problem, just based on the shear numbers. TNVR is most effectively targeted in areas where there is human/feline interaction. However, the remaining population provides a reservoir of untreated cats that will fill any vacuum left by a treated feral that dies. The additional health burdens of the microchip that reduce the survival of the feral, creates a need for more animals to be treated in order to manage the population. Compounding the TNVR treatments with microchip implant is counterproductive.
CATS VERSUS DOGS
The microchip risk/benefit is different for cats and dogs and is much less favorable. Stray cats can be pests but are not the same level of threat to public safety that dogs can be. Cats are less conducive to ownership than dogs are and should be managed differently.
Cats also have problems with pain management that makes microchip implant a problem for them. Most common pain relievers are toxic for cats so many caretakers use alternative therapies for them. Microchip implants can interfere with massage and acupressure therapies because the implant site of a microchip is over a significant acupressure point, Bl13. It also creates risks for magnet therapies as these are commonly applied in a collar application, near the implant site. These techniques are also applied to dogs, but they have more options for pain relief.
Cats do not get the same return to owner benefits from microchip implants that dogs do as they are 7-10 times more likely to find their own way home after being “lost” than dogs are. That is another reason why TNVR is a good alternative to euthanasia for stray cats. Microchip implant is not necessary and is even counterproductive to their survival. After TNVR with an ear tip, they are best left alone unless obviously sick or in need of help.
The 2012 survey of approximately 1,015 pet guardians reported by the ASPCA shows that 43% of lost cats find there way home, while only 18% of dogs do. The survey shows 14% of dogs and 15% of cats may get lost in a 5 year period. It also shows 92% of lost dogs and 74% of lost cats are recovered. The recovery without any form of ID is 78% for dogs and 73% for cats. In the study, 22.7% of the lost dogs and 14.9% of the lost cats had microchips. The ASPCA study does not document the ID method of pets that were recovered. However, we know that 9 dogs and 19 cats were unrecovered in the study. Of these 28 pets that were unrecovered, 20 had microchips. So we know that at least 1 of 9 (11%) of dogs and at least 11 of 19 (58%) of cats that were unrecovered, did have microchips. This sadly matches the roadway death statistics.
Some would still suggest that more cats would be returned if they were all implanted with a microchip, however, there is a much sadder explanation for the lower recovery rate. Microchips will not protects pets from the dangers of being left to roam and cats are particularly vulnerable to the danger of the road. Many more cats than dogs are killed in the roadway. It is reported that 1.2 million dogs and 5.4 million cats are killed each year in the US on the roadways. While these numbers include stray and feral animals besides pets, this more than explains the pets not recovered in the ASPCA survey and exceeds the US annual euthanasia rates of 0.67 million dogs and 0.86 million cats.
Microchips will not save roaming pets from death on the roadway. If you have a dog, you can protect them more on the loose by getting them trained to avoid traffic, than by implanting a microchip in them. Maybe some cats could be so trained, but sadly, their instincts do not serve them well against moving vehicles. There are LED and reflective collars that may also mitigate some of their risk, and those should have ID on them also and further negate the benefit of a microchip. Insurance companies do not recommend drivers swerve to avoid small animals as that can cause human injury and that will likely be the programming of autonomous vehicles.
In the shelter, cats show fewer returns to owner than dogs do but the improvement claimed for found microchip implanted animals in several studies is still quite similar, with 37% of cats returned and 30% of dogs who have microchips being returned to owner, who would not otherwise have been returned. Is this an indicator of the system efficacy or the care and concern of the guardian of the pet? Considering the UK microchip migration and failure rates of approximately 0.1%, that would point to the registries as the problem. Are we to believe that 2 out of 3 people who lose their pet do not care to update their registry?
FAILURES OF THE MICROCHIP TRACKING SYSTEM
There is very little information on just how many pets get returned to owner because of microchips. The available data is a little old and suggests only about 1/3 of found pets with microchips are returned to their guardians who would otherwise not have been returned.
HomeAgain reports that fewer than 50% of pet microchips are registered.
The Dogs Trust Stray Dog Survey for the year ending March, 2018 shows that 35% of stray dogs (found dogs) had microchips, with a population that was estimated to have 95% of dogs implanted with microchips. Of those stray dogs with microchips, only 49% had valid registries and only 42% were reunited with their owner. So only 15% of stray dogs are returned to their owner by microchip when 95% of the population is implanted. Those returns reflect only 0.15% of the population annually and 2% over the lifetime of the dog.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Universal Lookup searches a database of information on which registry the microchip information can be found in. A multitude of microchip registries have emerged with databases that are poorly staffed and maintained. One microchip producer lists the flaws in the registry system. Some registries are not even available by phone contact so if you have a problem you can fill out the web form and maybe they will (or not) get back to you before your pet has been euthanized. Attempts by the AAHA to unify the search has been only partially successful and is no better than the information contained in the many poorly maintained databases.
Pet microchips must be in a registry to be of use and the AAHA lookup is the commonly used way to find the registry for a lost pet. Some may guess about what registry the microchip is in, by the first three digits of the transponder number, but it would be best for all pet guardians to check the information in the registry and the registry lookup system, to assure a lost pet is found in the minimum amount of time to avoid euthanasia.
There are claims that the AAHA Universal Lookup processes 5,000 searches per day, but in 2018 it was approximately 3,700 searches per day (1.4 million per year). With approximately 184 million cats and dogs as pets in the USA, that comes 0.7% of the pet population in a years time. Most of those should be pet guardians looking up their registry to be sure it is there. Surveys show that 3% of the pet population per year gets lost. The AAHA data suggests low participation in microchip programs and registrations, but still does not tell us why.
Maybe it is the privacy policies. Selling the volumes of pet owner data collected in registries is another way the industry exploits pet guardians. The internet is full of stories of registries putting fees before pet recovery and their privacy policies are that you have none.
Maybe that poor registry participation is about Human Rights. Mandating this technology does not serve Animal Welfare and is abusive of Animal Rights. And if it is a safe, painless form of identification that can be mandated for them, what right will you have to object when it is mandated for you? It is these higher principles that call for rejection of this technology, as well as the other false claims about the risks and benefits of the technology.
Microchip implant is a failed pet ID technology because they have been made more invasive and toxic and still not solved the migration problem. They have not addressed the issue of inflammatory disease or cancer risk and mandating them appears to elevate shelter death rates. Registries are failures because they are being used to collect personal information and mandates for them are a threat to Human Rights. The benefits are not there for pet population control because most of the problems come from pets that do not have owners.
ALTERNATIVE ID METHODS
For those who like the convenience of RFID, that can be put on a collar. The state of the art for producing them has reached a point where hospitals can print their own wristbands for patients. Those are high frequency systems that track patients in the hospital in real time. Certainly a pet ID version could be used in shelters for scanners. Or just implant one in a conventional pet collar.
Conventional ID methods for cats and dogs include a collar and tag.
Some animals will have a tattoo.
Ear tipping of feral cats has also been done for some time as a means of identifying them when they have been neutered and vaccinated.
Older microchips that do not conform to ISO standards may be missed with an ISO compliant scanner. However, universal scanners have become available that can read them.
God gave our pets a unique identifier. Yes, their loving noses. Each dog and cat has a nose print as unique as our fingerprints. Patents exist for nose print identification systems. However, no active services appear to be currently available. The Canadian Kennel Club has been accepting dog nose prints as proof of identity since 1938.
There are active registries for the facial recognition of cats and dogs. The Petco Foundation sponsors Finding Rover https://findingrover.com .
With the facial recognition and finger (nose) print technologies of today, it is absolutely not necessary to use harmful invasive technologies to have permanent identifications of pets. Their loving faces and noses are certainly more reliable than a microchip.
Microchip implant and registration is a failed tracking technology that has become abusive. There is no excuse for mandating all our pets be subjected to the pain and health effects of the microchip.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A PET FRIENDLY COMMUNITY
Managing a stray and feral population, particularly of cats, can be a daunting problem. They reproduce at rates that are way over sustainable levels. Females reproduce themselves to death and most of their kittens do not survive. Humans who try to rescue them flood the system with more animals than there are homes for. Then comes the euthanasia of adoptable pets. It is simply essential that communities have effective spay/neuter programs to prevent excess populations.
TNVR is currently an excellent alternative for cat euthanasia and includes spay/neuter. However, the shear number of cats that need to be treated are also a daunting problem. Animal control agencies and rescue groups can be overloaded. This is a community problem and a community that does not want pets euthanized must participate to solve the problem.
While government agencies favor mandates, fewer than 20% of pet owners want their pets implanted with a microchip. Most people who aid ferals and strays would have similar views. Those views are supported by the information we are posting on this site. TNVR is most effectively targeted in areas where stray and feral cats interact with humans. To achieve that, people must be comfortable with identifying cats for treatment. The needed community participation will not happen if there is a microchip implant mandate for these cats. The recommendations to promote community participation to remedy lost pet and overpopulation problems are:
Mandatory microchip implant ordinances for the general population should be revoked to prevent problems from compounded veterinary procedures, conflicts with rabies vaccination, liabilities from experimental and risky products and obstacles to public engagement. They should otherwise include mandatory FDA adverse event reporting and liberal health exceptions.
Any working microchip should be acceptable ID and a pet with such should not be implanted with another.
Registration and Public Engagement
Priority should be given to participation in pet registration and alternative ID should be accepted from pet owners who are aware of the health risks from microchip implants and find them unacceptable for their pet.
Facial Recognition (FR) should be incorporated into protocols for identifying lost pets. A digital FR photo could serve as ID in the registration database.
The facial recognition website FindingRover is free, offers partnerships and has adoption options.
Priority should be given to promotion for adopting and returning pets. A good facial picture for FR and a good full picture would promote returning lost pets and marketing pets for adoption.
Nose Print identification should be given consideration if the technology becomes available.
Public Safety and Population Control
Rabies vaccination should be given primary priority for public safety and sterilization given priority for population control. Laws involving pediatric veterinary procedures should be limited and should not include pet microchip implantation mandates.
Rabies vaccination and spay/neuter compliance guidelines should match the current state of veterinary practice and owner beliefs and the registration database should automate progressive warnings of non-compliance with enforcement limits reasonable and clearly set.
TNVR and other spay/neuter programs should be the primary means of cat over-population control and priority should be placed on their vaccination, spay/neuter and ear tipping with microchip implantation discretionary as the last priority. Cats need care and consideration following microchip implant for over three days and for weeks afterwards. No one should be implanting them if they cannot provide the needed care.
INSIDE THE MICROCHIP
We initiated inquires to three major microchip manufacturers (HomeAgain 985, Petlinks/Datamars 981 and Avid), asking what the length and diameter of the antenna in their microchip was. The HomeAgain and Avid Representatives told us that information was proprietary. None of the representatives actually seemed to understand the question, so we have gone inside one of our microchips to find out. The chip shown below was bought on Ebay and shipped from China. The transponders for them started 90011 and we have no idea what they are made of. They appear to be coated with Parylene-C. We removed approximately two feet of 48 gauge (0.00125 inch) copper wire from inside it that had been wound into its antenna.
We also dissected a mini-chip from Petkey with a transponder starting 992 that is manufactured by a German company, Smartrac Specialty and found that the antenna is about 6 inches long and also 48 gauge. This mini-chip actually was about the size of a grain of rice. It would need to be read with scanners much closer, probably in contact. We have concerns that the scanner transmits more than a signal and may spread infectious disease in shelters.
We did also go inside the HomeAgain microchip to find out the proprietary length and diameter of their antenna.
We confess to much gratification in cutting open the chip and pulling out it’s antenna as they have cut into so many pets with their 12 gauge needle and marginalized their pain and suffering for profits. What we found first was about two and a half feet of 48 gauge copper wire attached to a very interesting inner coil. It appeared to be a higher gauge wire, 0.008 inches +/- 0.003 inch. It was wrapped on a ferrous core and we estimate it to have been about 3 inches. This is most curious as the L/D is almost a hundred times higher and we are wondering if it is for higher frequencies. We see advertisements on Alibaba for pet microchips that are for 13.56 MHz instead of the current convention of 135 KHz. Are they about to crank up the frequencies on pet microchips systems and will your pet become mandated to be implanted with yet another chip?
We are wondering how these devices will be effected by the new 5G Technology that we are told will go up to 300 GHz with directional beams and will be on us 24/7. There are many concerns for birds and insects, but what about our pets with microchips that have antennas? We have tried to sift through the mountains of propaganda telling us everything we need to know about 5G. The only reference we could find referred to wearable RFID identification of children:
The radio transmitters in such devices are generally transmitting with very low power. When tested they are required to comply with national or international exposure limits. When watching a video the device is mostly receiving information and only transmits information for brief periods.
Other types of devices such as personal trackers also transmit for short periods of time.
We are glad to see the damage will be brief but wonder about compliance when nobody seems to have a meter to measure field strength at 300 GHz. We will be looking further into this and updating as we find out more.
What You Can Do
There is an abundance of evidence that these implants are harmful to pets, yet the campaigns of misinformation and manipulation march on. There is also emerging evidence that the health effects on pets effects the general population and raises the level of infectious disease. Some of that would also translate to human health in the community. The microchip implant technology is not appropriate for humans or their companion animals. What we may actually need are laws protecting humans and pet from mandates. Raise the issues. Pet microchip programs and mandates are faux animal welfare programs that actually create animal rights abuses and are a threat to human rights and welfare.
The tactics used to promote microchip programs include grant funding for spay/neuter programs that incorporate microchip implants for management, for pets through shelter programs. The spay/neuter programs are funded because they produce results. What the microchip program produces is another matter.
The tactics also include intimidation. Do not expect your veterinarian to fight for your pet. Do not blame them for hiding behind matters of “clinical significance” and the like. The special interests involved in this have plenty of money and power for frivolous lawsuits to destroy their practices and lives. You may get some of the same treatment. It is the UK Authorities who have set the precedent that microchips are harmless so that even if they stop working, removing them would be considered an unnecessary surgery. Even if you suspect they are making your pet sick, you may be challenged on clinical significance. You will need to get the facts and do what you need to do to protect your pets.
Here are Twelve Things You Can Do To Protect Pets
Share information on the dangers and adverse effects of microchips. Contact your local shelter and rescues with information. Also contact you county and state representatives. Make sure they know you do not want microchips forced on pets because of the pain, illness and exploitation associated with them. Ask them the questions listed at the beginning of the Pet Microchip Information page. Send them a link to this website and ask them what they think. Tell them about the FRAUD and the Betrayal of Dogs Trust. Suggestions#1
If your pet has a microchip and any adverse effects that may be related, report it in an adverse events report to the FDA. Suggestions#2
Refuse to contribute to pet charities who promote microchips without informing pet owners of the risks. Tell them why. Suggestions#3
Challenge pet cancer organizations to study the rate of cancer in pets with and without microchips. Suggestions#4
Challenge veterinarians and veterinary organizations to update their risk assessments of microchips based on current adverse event reporting, risky products being introduced into the market and the current understanding of inflammatory and auto-immune disease. Suggestions#5
Demand veterinary organizations review and take a position on the compounded procedures involving microchip implant, being done on orphaned kittens and puppies and added to TNVR procedures. Suggestions#6
If your pet has a microchip, learn the symptoms of inflammatory disease. If your pet has symptoms, provide nutritional support. Consider inflammatory marker testing. Talk to you veterinarian. Know the symptoms of other toxins that may be related to your pets microchip. Suggestions#7
If your pet has a microchip, do an electromagnetic force (EMF) survey of the pets environment and provide protections. Do not use pet products with magnets. Suggestions#8
If your pet has a microchip, know the transponder number and keep the registry updated. Get what information you can on the specifications of the microchip implanted in your pet. Suggestions#9
If you have to have a microchip removed, first find out about the microchip and any anti-migration characteristics that may make removal difficult and have a veterinarian do the removal properly. Suggestions#10
Promote other forms of identification. Why are we using microchips instead of faces? Suggestions#11
If your community is under Mandate, familiarize yourself with the law. If you are forced to microchip your pet, get their inflammatory markers tested before and after. Fight for fair medical exceptions. Gather information on the effects on the pet population and shelter dispositions and raise questions. Make sure your municipal, county and state representatives know how you feel about such mandates. Suggestions#12
Here are Suggestions on How To
#1 Most people are not aware of the dangers, particularly from the field testing of risky products in the unregulated microchip market. Send them a link to this website and ask for comments. Or send a Pet Health Alert about the Plastic Microchip being promoted. Suggested alert following:
Tell them about the fraud of grants for microchips that tie them to spay/neuter programs to claim the credit for population reduction. Tell them about the Betrayal of Dogs Trust and about the code of silence over the Death in the Kennel. (See also, Pet Microchip Information on Lost Pets and Background)
The stories are out there. Read Pasha’s story. Four veterinarians took his money and until he saw the x-rays himself, he never knew until too late that the tumor was growing off the microchip that had been implanted 13 years earlier.
Microchips made with metals high in iron or other ferrous components can also be a problem, as they are more magnetic (have higher magnetic potential). Talk about a migration problem, people should be warned about the dangers of magnets for chipped pets.
They actually make magnetic pet collars for pain relief. We have used one on our elderly cat with arthritis as most common pain relievers are toxic to cats. The field strength is much lower, but over time, it might migrate a chip. There are magnetic pet beds, also. VCA actually provides magnet therapy for pets.
More very well researched information from a grieving guardian about Léon.
#2 Report Adverse Reactions – Yes, we know everybody has a lot of bad words they use for what FDA stands for, but they are the only game in town for reporting pet microchip adverse events. The Veterinary FDA has a voluntary reporting system. Just like they have a voluntary pre-market approval for pet microchip manufacturers. If you do not report adverse events, then manufacturers claim their products are safe, by default.
The manufacturer is required to maintain adverse event reports on their products. They should be reporting them to the Veterinary FDA. We suspect the compliance with these requirements is poor. Your veterinarian is not required to make an adverse event report to either the manufacturer or the Veterinary FDA.
If you look at the first summary report of the UK Mandatory Adverse Event Reporting you will see charts on how long after the microchip was implanted the event took place. The time scale is not linear, but shows they can occur years after implant. Pasha’s tumor grew on the microchip 13 years after implant.
#4 With cat and dog cancer so heartbreaking, how can it be that willful ignorance is maintained over the effects of microchips? Has anyone questioned why they are losing the pet cancer battle? Pet cancer organizations do not even include pet microchip information in their data to consider it in their studies. How can that be? Maybe there is too much money being made off this industry.
#5 You can tell the AVMA has sold out pets, because they have not updated their adverse events in their risk assessments, since 2009. Ask them why they do not include the UK data for 2014 to date in their risk analysis on microchips for pets. Those rates are 10X higher!
#6 Veterinary organizations have approved individual procedures for the individual pediatric veterinary procedures for vaccination, spay/neuter and microchip implant. But they are all advised with caution. We suspect the implant at the time of spay/neuter comes from the microchip industry. All tragically put together by people who have been lead to believe they are saving pets lives doing this to orphaned shelter animals. The outcomes of these procedures should be tracked and evaluated. It is not just the mortality rate of the procedures that is an issue. How does it effect the immune system of the pets in the community and the level of infectious disease in the population?
#7Implants cause chronic inflammation. They have developed many inflammatory markers for dogs to research the cause of their cancer. Cats have only two. Most laboratories do not test for cat inflammatory markers. VDI Lab does a feline test. It seem that only the drug companies do Serum Amyloid A (SAA) test for cats that they use for drug testing. Quite sad. Maybe more requests for the test will get some laboratories offering the test to the public.
Inflammatory disease is legitimate grounds for medical exemption from rabies vaccination in states that have such exemptions. If the microchip mandate does not have such, question why.
If your pet has symptoms of inflammatory illness that you cannot otherwise remedy, get their markers tested and consider having a veterinarian remove the chip.
The information is sketchy about the inflammatory response to the microchip implant, but most say the acute phase is three days and the recovery period a month. People who enter their dogs into competitions sometimes use inflammatory marker testing to check them to make sure they are up for top performance. They say that when a dog is implanted with a microchip, the inflammatory markers never return to their original baseline. The manufacturers must know that, but do not have to disclose that information. They qualify the products on the test coming back into the norm. So the pet carries some burden that detracts from their health. These are grounds for pet owners to object.
Less likely, but still possible for a glass chip of questionable origin, is the issue of lead poisoning. If a pet has symptoms and health problems, lead should be considered for testing.
#8 Pets love EMF because it is warm. But if they have a microchip it is a big NoNo. Wireless devices, can interact with the chip.
Do not use magnetic products (pet beds and collars for pain relief) for pets with microchips.
#9 Pet microchip registries are a nightmare. The first thing you will need is your transponder number. If you do not know it, you will need to get it read at a veterinary or shelter. If it is an older or non standard chip, you will need the scan done with a universal scanner. Once you have the number, try a lookup in the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup. If it is registered, they should tell you where so you can go change it. Otherwise, you may be able to tell from the first three digits or the format of the chip, who manufactured/distributed it. They may have a free registry or you may need to pay for one. Always check to see they are feeding it into the universal lookup. Microchip Transponder Numbers. There are also lists you can find through internet searches.
These things are like mortgages. You sign up with a company you think is legit and then they package you up and sell you to a predatory organization that starts demanding more fees to keep you listed and to update your listing. It is a different kind of predator that has your pet by the throat. You pay.
If you object to registration, identify a registry that can update the system fast and keep the transponder number handy to register if the pet gets lost.
#10 Microchip manufactures have made their products more invasive and toxic to prevent migration. That makes removal difficult. Stolen animals are maimed by thieves cutting them out. Do not do this without a veterinarian.
Humans having implants are refusing to have the ones with plastic coatings because they leave scars when removed. Too bad pets do not have the same options.
You or your veterinarian may be threatened, by the special interests promoting pet microchips, with frivolous lawsuits for doing unnecessary surgeries if you want to remove the microchip. You may need to take measures to protect yourself and your veterinarian. One could counter that the implant was an unnecessary procedure, unless there is a mandate. Mandates are used to protect those who implant harmful pet microchips.
You can make a record of symptoms, independent of your veterinarian, through the FDA Adverse Event Reporting system. You can get inflammatory marker testing done. These things may also help support a medical exception if you are under mandate. You can get a veterinarian outside the jurisdiction of the microchip mandate. You may have to consider rehoming your pet outside the microchip mandate. Protect your pet.
#11 Pet guardians should all have good facial and general pictures of their pets. The facial photo should be high resolution, square in the picture and taken with the camera straight on. Finding Rover is a great website but under-supported. Let the sponsors know the site needs a phone contact 24/7 and some more customer service.
Make sure you have those pictures and know the transponder number if your pet has a microchip BEFORE you lose your pet.
#12 Mandates without medical exception, particularly those that include compounded pediatric procedures, are likely to increase the kennel deaths in the shelters. If you can get the shelter transparency data to show that, you will have a basis to request change. Also look at the returns to owner and stray intake. If these have not improved, how is the mandate justified? The truth is that microchips cause more problems then they solve. What is the cost and the benefit?
Urge your shelter to do their own review. Suggest a review of the disposition of pets that have been implanted since in custody verses those who have not. A twelve gauge hole in the back and an implant may very well effect an animals chances of surviving in the shelter. Animals need care and consideration following the procedure for over three days and for weeks afterwards. No one should be implanting them if they cannot provide the needed care.
In a shelter where microchips are used to track animals through the shelter, the scanner itself can transmit things besides radio waves. The spread of infectious disease can adversely effect even animals who are not recently implanted. So for shelters, look for a general increase in shelter deaths as well as one specific to animals implanted and compounded pediatric procedures. If compounded pediatric procedures are being done, watch for elevation in the infectious disease level of the general population (shelter intake). Implants can cause behavioral problems, too. How would you like to have to walk on all 4’s with an implanted electronic device with an antenna in your back between your shoulder blades?
The Dog Trust has experienced increased shelter death rates to the highest on record for 2019. Tell people about the The Betrayal of Dogs Trust.
So sad that these may be the most adverse effects from microchip implants, not counted in any adverse event report, but just another death in the shelter.
We could do better.
I lost my pet. She never roamed. She never got lost. She just wanted to be with me. I loved her and tried to keep her safe. But she still got old, took a fall and suffered grave injury. Then I lost her to cancer after prolonged illness, at 15 years of age.
Many of us lose our pet. It happens all the time. That is why it is so important to enjoy every day with them and love them in health and happiness. Do not let the fear of loss influence you to do things that may cost you your health and happiness.
Do we hang on to those we love in destructive manners that cost us our health and happiness? Get the facts. Judge wisely, without fear.