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? It is our aim 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. 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. They get test subjects for field testing their products and the negative health effects create customers. 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.
We will tell you just why it should be up to guardians to make the decision for their pet about the need for a microchip. We hope guardians who choose to implant their pets will find the information here useful to choose a microchip that would be the most safe 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.
We have no official affiliation with other ChipMeNot websites, just a lot of respect for their efforts to raise awareness of the issues.
There is a whole lot of bullchip being promoted 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 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. In fact, promotions by people who cannot be held accountable includes information that does not stand up to scrutiny.
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.
Bullchip 2: A microchip is injected just beneath the skin (subcutaneously) and implant causes little pain. The implant technique has 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 mandatory and all they count are the tumors that grow on the microchips. Cancer rate and chronic inflammatory disease studies are missing from the analysis.
Bullchip 5: Microchips are passive devices that only activate by a scanner. The scanner sends radio waves to an antenna, capacitor and chip that modulates the field and the scanner interprets the results as backscatter. The antenna is not a selective receiver and can intercept, generate current with, and re-radiate other electromagnetic waves in the environment. There are also potential hazards from stray electromagnetic fields. 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 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.
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 at least 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?
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 essentially 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 enforceable regulations or restrictions 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.
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 us. It is also used to hold people accountable for pets that do harm. How many pets actually benefit from this? With all the data collected, we are presented with virtually no hard facts.
A 2012 survey of approximately 1,015 pet guardians reported by the ASPCA gives an idea of how many pets benefit from having ID. It reports that 14% of dogs and 15% of cats may get lost in a 5 year period. That would extrapolate to 39% over an average 14 year lifetime of a pet. Approximately 85% of the lost pets are recovered by various methods. Even without recovery by ID, the recovery of lost pets is 76%. That suggests that no more than 9% of pets could benefit from having ID during an average lifetime. 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.
The 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 suggests that 3% of pets would be recovered by ID over an average 14 year lifetime of a pet 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 unrecovered. 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 183 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. 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. 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%.
So in summary, 39% get lost, 30% get recovered without ID, 3% get recovered by ID, and additional 1% could be recovered if they had ID and 5% are not recovered, possibly lost in the roadway.
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.
Many forms of ID are available. So why should a guardian opt for implanting an electronic device in their pet instead of using a collar or maintaining a current picture for facial recognition?
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”. 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. That would indicate a factor of approximately 7 for voluntary versus mandatory reporting.
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 2017 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 in April 2016. The total number of implants is not tracked, but estimates at various points in time are given. 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.
From the 2016 and 2017 adverse event data sets we extracted the following for Events First Detected the year starting April 2016:
Dog Implants Per Event
Based on the population estimates:
Population Implanted 4/1/16 – 3/31/17
Population (9% of 8.5 million)
Births (1/12 of 8.5 million)
Total Dogs Implanted
The UK Government also reports that 61% (or 69%, depending on interpretation) of dogs had microchip implants as of 2012. Another UK Government post in February 2013 claims 60% of dogs had microchip implants at that time. This would indicate that the population base that was implanted with mandatory reporting in effect would be around one third of the 8.5 million. So the overall rate of 1 in 3,000 at one third the population would support the 1 in 1, 000 rate.
Another way to estimate the adverse event rate would be to consider the 2017 data as reflecting the birth rate. That would indicate the rate is 1 in 840.
The BSAVA, the UK VMD, the AVMA and the WSAVA are not reporting on these statistics.
This mandatory reporting of Adverse Events is yet also understated as shelters do not report on pets who develop communicable diseases after being implanted with a microchip upon intake to the shelter. Should they develop communicable diseases or even die from them after implant, it is treated as just another death in the shelter.
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.”.
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.
Third party studies, including the polypropylene cap microchip, indicate that the cap does not prevent or reduce migration. The 2016 and 2017 UK Adverse Events that show the Destron-Fearing polypropylene microchip (transponder numbers starting 985) accounts for approximately 8.8% 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 Parylene C coated Pet-ID Microchip (transponder number starting 958) accounts for approximately 7.5% of the migration events.
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 that tie microchip implant programs to spay/neuter programs and subsequently take credit for reductions in euthanasia from spay/neuter programs, creating misconceptions that microchip programs reduce euthanasia. These are harmful misconceptions that lead to improper utilization of resources and more pet deaths.
The ASPCA itself posts some fuel for such misinformation. 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. 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.
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.
A 2012 survey of approximately 1,015 pet guardians reported by the ASPCA give an idea of how many pets benefit from having ID. The study shows that approximately 3% to 4% may benefit from ID for recovery over their lifetime. The benefit of ID could be provided by any form of ID. How can it be that an entire population should be mandated to have that one form of invasive ID? While there are some reasons collars and tags can be problematic, certainly photographs for facial identification do not have the same kind of adverse health effects that microchip implants do.
Microchip technology has not been readily adopted by pet owners and the microchip special interests have been promoting mandates through pet shelter programs. Best Practice (page 15) recommendations include methods for 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. Pet microchip mandates are generally imposed as a remedy for stray pets and many are mislead to believe it reduces euthanasia. Most stray animals, particularly cats, do not have owners and are more often the product of overpopulation than pets getting lost. The remedy to overpopulation is spay/neuter. When pet overpopulation is controlled, there is minimal need for euthanasia and so it becomes less of a threat to a lost pet.
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:
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.
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 veterinary 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.
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. 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 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 dogs and 74% of cats are recovered, leaving 2% of dogs and 3% of cats as lost and not recovered. 22.7% of the lost dogs and 14.9% of the lost cats had microchips, but less than 13.6% of lost dogs and 1.4% of lost cats with ID were recovered. That is a microchip recovery of lost dogs less than 60% and for lost cats is less than 10% with an overall pet recovery of less than 44%.
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. 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.
In the shelter, cats show fewer returns to owner than dogs do but the improvement claimed for microchip implanted animals in several studies is still quite similar, with 37% of cats returned and 30% of dogs returned that would not otherwise have been. 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 lost pets with microchips are returned to their guardians who would otherwise not have been returned. The 2012 ASPCA survey suggests a recovery rate of under 44% for lost pets with microchips. Not all pets can be recovered. HomeAgain reports that fewer than 50% of pet microchips are registered.
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 to less than 1% of the pet population in a years time. The 2012 ASPCA survey suggests 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.
Microchip implant is a failed technology because microchips are made invasive and/or toxic to prevent migration and have other adverse health effects. Registries are failures because they are being used to collect personal information, making them invasive of pet guardians privacy.
ALTERNATIVE ID METHODS
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.
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.
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.
TNVR is currently the best remedy. 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.
What You Can Do
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. 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. 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:
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.
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.
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.
YOU DO NOT NEED A VETERINARIAN TO REPORT ADVERSE EVENTS. Here is the website and here is the form .
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! Then there is the data in the FDA system. It takes an FOIA request to get it. So where are the updates?
#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.
#7 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.
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.
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.
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.