The microchip wars and how they affect your pets' safety (Part 1: Accusations)
This is the first of a three-part series. I've been researching this industry for some time now and hope that you consider my comments exploratory and thought-provoking. Have fun.
You may not know this but…not only are there a variety of brands of microchips available, these brands often represent competing technologies.
Remember the VHS and Betamax wars of the late seventies? (Maybe not.) Back then some of us owned a great piece of movie-watching equipment we couldn’t use. This was after VHS won the war and Betamax-technology based movies disappeared almost overnight.
You should know that microchip companies are just as competitive in their military tactics as the warring factions were when it came to home movies. Only much more’s at stake than what sized square box fits into your TV. In this case nothing less is on the line than whether your pet is found and returned…or locked up and euthanized.
That means if you’re not careful about your microchip choice, Fluffy may not find her way home after the next hurricane.
This may sound drastic and inflammatory but it’s already happening. Some pets are now being microchipped with chips of a different technology than many of their local vets and shelters can read. If readers try to scan these pets they’d likely find…”No chip here, guys. What’ll we do with this one?”
And lest you think it’s just the difference between the basic technologies that’s a problem, you should also know it’s way more complicated than that. Even microchip companies that use the same basic technology are barring other companies from reading their specific chips—as a way to maintain or capture the market of safety conscious pet owners.
I’ll say it right up front. The more I read about the microchip wars, the more disgusted I get with all the companies involved. Not one has proven that they care more about getting pets home than about their bottom lines.
Any microchip company that sets up commercial barriers against other microchip companies by effectively limiting any pet from finding its way back home deserves to be dragged out of the market and drowned in a sea of animal cruelty legal fees.
Moreover, any company or retailer (such a vet, shelter or breeder) that implants microchips without informing clients of the implications of this technology (who can read the chip and who can’t) is looking for a world of trouble.
These are harsh statements—even by my often-cutting critical standards. The last time I was so angry was over the pet food recall. And this setup is just as bad (if not worse) from the point of view of animal welfare.
Arguably, the microchip wars have led to more pain, suffering and euthanasia than ten such pet food recalls…perhaps even more.
But we’ll never know. The death of an unidentifiably microchipped animal is a silent event. It no doubt happens in shelters across the country; but owners of lost pets just assume she was killed by a car or, hopefully, taken in by a loving family when she got so lost she couldn’t find her way back home.
No paper trail and no proof equals no liability. It’s a perfect setup for malfeasance on the part of an irresponsible company. And they’ve all proven they’re willing to sacrifice pet safety to gain a degree’s difference on the microchip-market pie-chart.
“Ouch!” you might say, “Those are some serious accusations! So where’s the evidence? What’s the deal here?” Read the next installment on this issue for more.