Grieving owner calls for an end to mandatory microchipping in Los Angeles
A fluffy bundle of life, love, and enthusiasm named Charlie Brown was laid to rest last week, the victim of a microchip implant gone horribly wrong. The long-haired, purebred Chihuahua bled to death in the arms of his distraught owners, Lori and Ed Ginsberg of Agua Dulce, California, just hours after undergoing the controversial chipping procedure.
"I wasn't in favor of getting Charlie chipped, but it was the law," said Lori Ginsberg, citing a Los Angeles county ordinance that requires all dog owners to chip their dogs once they reach four months of age. Dog owners who refuse to comply face a $250 fine for the first offense and up to six months in jail for continued non-compliance. "This technology is supposedly so great until it's your animal that dies," she said. "I can't believe Charlie is gone. I'm just beside myself."
Dr. Reid Loken, the board certified veterinarian who performed the chipping, confirmed on Friday that Charlie died from blood loss associated with the microchip. He cited "an extreme amount of bleeding" from the "little hole in the skin where the [microchip implant] needle went in" as the cause of death. He said he was both saddened and puzzled by Charlie's death.
"I just don't know what happened to him. We put the chip in the back in the shoulder blades, the standard place where we put them, and there really aren't any major blood vessels in that area," he said. "I don't think it went in too deep; it was a pretty routine chipping."
Dr. Loken suspected the needle may have nicked the muscle around the scapula, causing blood to ooze from the muscle. However, his efforts to stem the bleeding with pressure bandages were unsuccessful. The bleeding could not be attributed to a congenital clotting problem, he said, since Charlie had undergone a neutering and tooth extraction without incident just weeks before.
Charlie's owners were devastated by the loss. "Charlie loved to play and cuddle. He brought so much joy and life to our home," said Lori. "We loved him and took such good care of him. He meant everything to us."
The Ginsbergs were quick to absolve Dr. Loken of responsibility for Charlie's death. "He's a great vet and this was not his fault. The real blame is with the people who forced us to implant our dog against our better judgment," they said.
The Ginsbergs plan to petition the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to repeal the mandatory chipping law, and have sought the help of prominent consumer privacy advocate Dr. Katherine Albrecht. Albrecht is a Harvard-trained researcher who has authored a definitive academic paper citing literature that links microchips with cancer in dogs as well as laboratory animals. She has also authored an exhaustive, 47-page FAQ on microchip implants.
Albrecht cites other adverse reactions stemming from microchips in the past. In one case, a struggling kitten died instantly when a microchip was accidentally injected into its brain stem. In another, a cat was paralyzed when an implant entered its spinal column. The implants have been widely reported to migrate within animals' bodies, and can cause abscesses and infection. In at least two documented cases, dogs have developed cancerous tumors surrounding or adjacent to microchip implants.
"Tragedies like what happened to Charlie Brown are probably more common than we like to think," said Albrecht. "But it takes courageous people like the Ginsbergs to come forward and talk about it."
Albrecht and the Ginsbergs are calling for a repeal of all mandatory animal chipping laws nationwide, and for the creation of a national registry to document adverse reactions from the chipping procedure.
"It's horrible to live in a country where your choices are being take away and you don't get to make decisions about your family and your life anymore," said Lori Ginsberg. "Politicians should not take away my right to do what I thought was best for my pet."
For The Media:
The Ginsbergs have agreed to speak to the media about their experience to help raise awareness of the dangers of pet chipping. They can be contacted at: CharlieBrownMemorial@yahoo.com
Dog Bleeds to Death After "Routine" Microchip Implant Procedure, February 03, 2009 - katherinealbrecht.com
February 03, 2009: Listen to hour 1 and hour 2 of Dr. Katherine Albrecht's radio interview with Lori Ginsberg regarding the tragic death of Charlie Brown, who bled to death due to the microchip implant procedure.