This article is based on published scientific data, veterinary literature and official documents. While some of the information has been discussed in previous articles written in memory of Léon, an irreplaceable French Bulldog who developed cancer at the site of his microchip implant, new information is presented, along with a detailed References section that verifies and expands on this article. (1-10)
Although an abundance of literature proves there are serious risks and problems caused by microchipping, mandatory microchipping of animals continues to be legislated. (11) It is imperative that those entrusted with the care of animals know the truth about microchipping and maintain the right to choose a safe and reliable form of identification for their animals. (12)
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|Microchipping Lies, Legislation and Lawsuits
Microchip implants are advertised as safe, reliable, permanent identification that cannot be removed or lost. Advertisements also claim the chip lasts the lifetime of an animal and has a unique identification number that cannot be duplicated or become unreadable. (13-43) However, published scientific data, veterinary literature and official documents prove the claims are false, misleading, unsubstantiated and can endanger the lives of microchipped animals. (44-48)
Consumers are told that microchip implants are safe. Nevertheless, serious health problems can occur because of microchipping. Documented health risks include: cancer; spinal cord injuries; nerve damage; muscle changes; abscesses; lumps; masses; haematomas; calcification; dermatitis; infections; swelling; scarring and hair loss. (49-75) Some animals have died as a result of the microchip implant procedure. (76-81)
Health concerns can also occur because of equipment problems. According to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), equipment problems have resulted in partial insertion and full implantation of the implanter’s rod in animals. (82)
Failure, expulsion and migration
Microchips are implanted in mice, dogs, cats, horses, snakes, birds, fish, turtles, elephants and many other animals. Humans have also been chipped. (83-97) Regardless of the expected lifespan of an animal or human, advertising claims a microchip implant provides permanent, lifetime identification. However, microchips can fail. (98-104)
“Failure is a matter of concern, as it means a dog [or other microchipped animal] cannot be identified if lost, may have to be quarantined on arrival in a new country and may involve further expense to have the animal rechipped,” the VMD says. (105)
Failed microchips have resulted in costly and stressful experiences for people traveling with their animals to countries that require chipping. Pets with failed chips can be quarantined until they are implanted with another chip (which may also fail and/or cause an adverse reaction) and new documents are issued. Quarantining an animal and issuing new documents is an expensive, stressful and time-consuming exercise. The process may also require an animal to be re-vaccinated even though its vaccines are current. (106-108)
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) says, “[A] microchip must only be removed where this can be clinically justified. … Removal of a microchip in any other circumstances would be an unnecessary mutilation.” (109) However, some pet owners have been advised to have a failed chip surgically removed so it could be sent to the manufacturer, hoping the identification number could be read by the manufacturer. (110-111)
An implanted microchip can be expelled from the body. The device can also migrate from the original site of implantation, which can make it difficult or impossible to locate the chip and identify the animal. (112-120)
The VMD says microchip migrations in cats have been detected up to 10 years after implantation, and more than 10 years after implantation in dogs. “Apart from those cases in which the chip migrated out through the skin, the furthest migration reported was to the left groin of a dog,” the VMD notes. (121)
Requiring pet owners to have a potentially unsafe and unreliable foreign object implanted in their pets is illogical, particularly since pets can be safely and reliably identified by using a combination of a tattoo, valid passport, certificate of pedigree from a recognized breed registry, DNA test, or properly fitted identification collar. (122) Also, creating an identification system that results in animals undergoing costly, stressful, invasive and potentially dangerous surgery to prove their identification is unethical and unacceptable.
Incompatible microchip-scanner technologies
Consumers naturally assume a microchip implant will be easily located and successfully read by all scanners. Advertising reinforces this belief. (123-126) However, fierce competition and lack of strict regulations in the microchip industry have resulted in incompatible microchip-scanner technologies. As a result, scanners (including “universal” scanners) cannot read all microchip implants. (127-134)
According to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), “Dogs imported from outside Europe may have a chip which cannot be read by standard UK scanners. … it must be re-implanted with a compliant chip and registered.” (135-136) Consequently, some animals are implanted with more than one chip. (137)
Implanting multiple chips in an animal to compensate for incompatible microchip-scanner technologies and/or failed microchip implants places an unnecessary and unfair strain and financial burden on pet owners. Implanting multiple chips may also increase the risk that an animal will experience an adverse microchip reaction or event.
Sometimes a scanner cannot detect a chip that still works. Tragically, lost microchipped pets that have been taken to an animal shelter have been euthanized because incompatible microchip-scanner technologies prevented the scanner from detecting the implant. (138-143)
“[O]ne cannot overlook the importance of a functional reader in the identification of an implanted transponder – without this, the system fails,” says the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). (144-145)
Duplication of identification numbers
Microchip advertising claims that an identification number is unique and cannot be duplicated. However, a microchip number can be unintentionally duplicated. For example, when the same three-digit prefix code is used by more than one manufacturer, the same identification number can be given to more than one animal. (146-148)
Microchip numbers can also be intentionally duplicated. When Barbara Masin of Trovan® Electronic Identification Systems attended a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hearing about microchips, she discussed some of the weaknesses of ISO microchips. She also demonstrated how to easily clone the identification number of an ISO microchip. “A person could keep several look-alike animals and register only one, or claim health insurance coverage for 10 animals while taking out a policy on only one,” said Masin, who added that the “USDA didn’t want to see any information against the system.” (149-151)
Instructions that show how to duplicate a microchip identification number are available on the Internet. (152-154)
Proof of ownership
Consumers have been led to believe that microchips are proof of ownership. One of the arguments used in order to mandate microchipping of dogs in the UK was that it would help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners.
According to a 2013 press release from Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), “The Government is bringing in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from 6 April 2016 to help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets… .” (155-156) However, contrary to DEFRA’s statement, The Kennel Club (UK) says, “Compulsory microchipping is not proof of legal ownership.” (157) Petlog, a microchip database run by The Kennel Club, also states, “No, microchipping will not be proof of ‘ownership.’ The words ‘owner’ and ‘ownership’ have been replaced by the words ‘keeper’ and ‘keepership’ for this very reason.” (158)
Similar to the UK, microchipping in the US is not proof of ownership. “Most pet owners assume that microchipping their pets constitutes proof of ownership. Unfortunately, it does not. … After all, proof of ownership is not required for registration,” says Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD of Sunset Animal Clinic in Miami, Florida. (159)
Documented cases also show that a microchip implant is not proof of ownership. Therefore, if a lost or stolen microchipped animal is located, there is no guarantee the animal will be returned to its owner. (160-166)
Temperature-sensing microchip implants are also sold. Although the device is supposed to identify an animal and accurately read its temperature, it is not reliable.
In a scientific study of rhesus macaques (monkeys) implanted with temperature-sensing microchips it notes, “Of the 50 macaques implanted, 16 had microchips that failed to provide a temperature reading during at least one of the 3 measurement times.” (167) According to the study:
“[M]icrochip thermometry was not a reliable method of determining body temperature in rhesus macaques: the microchip readings were not consistently repeatable. Subcutaneous temperatures may differ from rectal temperatures because the subcutaneous temperatures may be affected by ambient temperatures or wet fur. In addition, a lag time between changes in core and subcutaneous temperatures could account for some of the disagreement between temperatures. Furthermore, the location of microchip implantation and the amount of subcutaneous adipose tissue could influence temperature readings.” (168)
An accurate temperature reading is vital when monitoring an animal’s health. (169-176) Selling or implanting an inaccurate temperature-sensing microchip is unethical, irresponsible and potentially dangerous. Also, knowing that microchips can stop working, consumers should question the lifespan of the temperature-sensing capability of a chip.
Veterinarians and owners should be aware that it is not possible to obtain accurate MRI results when a microchip is located in the area that needs to be diagnosed.
In the scientific study “Evaluation of the Susceptibility Artifacts and Tissue Injury Caused by Implanted Microchips in Dogs on 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” it says:
“There was significant signal loss and image distortion over a wide range around the area where the microchip was implanted. This change was consistent with susceptibility artifacts, which rendered the affected area including the spinal cord undiagnostic.” (177)
The researchers noted that when a second MRI scan was performed on the same dog, the undiagnostic area around the microchip increased. (178) In addition, when an animal is small in size the image of the brain may be adversely affected. (179)
The researchers also observed that microchipped animals undergoing MRI may experience tissue damage adjacent to the implant. They write:
“It may be possible that the degeneration in the area adjacent to the tip of the implant seen in one dog under-going the MRI procedure was due to local tissue heating. This finding may reflect the fact that human patients with implants which are considered to be safe on MRI often feel pain or heat sensation during the procedure . … Therefore, it may be possible that our subtle pathological changes were caused by a local heating effect of MRI on the microchip… .” (180-182)
Given the results of the aforementioned canine study, it is possible that MRI diagnostics are further compromised when an animal has more than one microchip implant.
Microchips and computer viruses
Researchers have also shown that microchips can be infected with a computer virus. (183-184) For example, in 2009, Dr. Mark N. Gasson had a microchip implanted in his left hand. For research purposes he demonstrated how to infect an implantable radio-frequency identification (RFID) device with a computer virus. He writes, “[T]his has given rise to the world’s first human infected with a computer virus.” (185) The chip implanted in Dr. Gasson’s hand is similar, if not identical, to an animal’s microchip.
A microchip implant is not a visible form of identification. As a result, multiple steps are required to accurately identify a microchipped animal:
- A compatible, working scanner must be located.
- The animal must be thoroughly scanned for a microchip.
- The microchip must be working and successfully read by the scanner.
- The microchip registry that keeps the animal’s identification information must be located and successfully contacted.
- The microchip number and the owner’s current contact information must be accurately recorded in an accessible database.
- A careful decision must be made in the event that an owner’s contact information is not current or an animal has multiple chips that are registered to different owners.
Owners believe that a microchip implant will be scanned, successfully read and provide safe, lifetime identification for their animal. Many owners also believe that once their animal is microchipped, the person who implanted the chip will register the correct identification information in an accessible and reputable database. However, the burden falls on pet owners to ensure that their contact information and the chip’s identification number (or chip numbers for animals with multiple implants) are accurately recorded in the appropriate microchip database(s). Fees may also be incurred in order to register, maintain and/or update pet-owner information. (186) Failure to register a chip or maintain accurate owner information means an implant cannot identify an animal.
Numerous attempts have been made to facilitate the use of microchip databases. However, multiple microchip registries exist and it can be a daunting task to determine which database has an animal’s identification information. (187-189)
Additional problems arise because some companies with competing microchip technologies say a chip is unregistered even though it is registered. “Unfortunately, if you find a pet with a HomeAgain microchip that’s registered on AVID’s database, HomeAgain will tell you it’s not registered. And vice-versa,” warns Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD. (190)
Adding to the database confusion is that some companies do not keep records that show where they sold their chips, some do not maintain accurate records, and others go out of business. (191-194)
The inability to determine where a microchip number is registered and to whom it is registered means a lost or stolen microchipped animal cannot be identified by its chip. Therefore, many microchipped animals are not reunited with their owners who have a false sense of security because their animal is chipped. (195)
Compiling information in microchip databases regarding animals and their owners leads to additional concerns and questions. For example: What measures are taken, if any, to ensure the privacy of clients? How and where is the data stored? Who has access to the data? Is the data being used for more than the stated purpose of identifying an animal? (196)
Current animal microchip implants are not GPS tracking devices. Still, are implantable chips a stepping stone to the development and acceptance of using small, sophisticated, implantable tracking devices to locate and monitor animals and humans? (197-199)
The seemingly innocent data that is quietly being amassed because of microchipping adds another powerful layer to government and corporate control of the people. Data is money. Money is power. Power leads to corruption and control. Corruption and control results in a lack of choice and freedom.
Given the potential risks and problems associated with microchipping, there are legal questions that must be answered. For example, who is legally responsible for compensating owners for costs when:
- An animal experiences an adverse microchip reaction?
- A microchip implant fails to work?
- A scanner fails to detect or read a microchip?
- An animal is implanted with a microchip that has the same identification number as another animal(s)?
- Any problem occurs due to a microchip implant, insertion device, scanner or database?
Also, how much money will be awarded to an owner for problems that result from microchipping?
Mandatory microchipping, slaughterhouses and microchips in food
Despite a plethora of documented health risks and problems caused by microchip implant technology, governments have legislated compulsory microchipping of animals. In addition, some animal shelters will not allow pets to be adopted without a chip. (200-228)
Some federations also require horses to be microchipped in order to be registered and/or compete. (229-235) Chipping horses is unnecessary, particularly since they can be safely and reliably identified by using a combination of a freeze brand, tattoo, valid passport, certificate of pedigree or registration papers from a recognized breed or sport horse registry, or DNA test. Chipping horses is also potentially risky because the device is implanted in the nuchal ligament. Any damage done to the nuchal ligament can adversely affect a horse’s ability to perform daily activities or compete.
Microchipping horses is also potentially dangerous because literature for the equine LifeChip® says a microchip should not be implanted in an animal that may be consumed by humans.
(236-238) While some horses are respectfully buried or cremated, the sad reality is that the life of many of these magnificent creatures ends at a slaughterhouse, while the bodies of others are sent to a rendering plant.
The public should be aware that it is impossible for slaughterhouses (legal and illegal) and rendering plants to scan for, detect, recover, disable or safely dispose of all microchip implants from dead horses. Therefore, microchips will enter the human and animal food chain.
Implanting chips in livestock is also a problem. In 2004, the USDA issued a Class I Recall with a “High” health risk because hogs implanted with transponders (microchips) in their shoulders were slaughtered and shipped to establishments in the United States and Mexico for further processing. (239-240) In addition to posing a health risk for anyone who consumes a chip, or any part thereof, food recalls are expensive for manufacturers, distributors and consumers.
Regarding the use of an implantable identification device in livestock, the National Livestock Identification Scheme in Australia says, “RFID injectable transponders or subcutaneous implants are not commonly used for livestock identification due to device migrations, rejection, breakage and recovery problems.” (241)
Lack of reliable adverse reporting system
Mandatory microchipping of animals has been legislated in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, reporting an adverse microchip reaction or event was not legislated with either voluntary or mandatory chipping. Consequently, problems caused by microchipping are rarely reported. (242-246)
In February 2015, a positive step was taken when it became a legal requirement in England to report adverse microchip reactions or events experienced by dogs. The law became effective in Scotland and Wales in April 2016. Although the mandate is currently only applicable to dogs, any adverse microchip reaction or event experienced by any animal can be reported. Information can be sent to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), which started its “Microchip Adverse Event Reporting Scheme” in April 2014. (247-251)
In order to better understand and accurately document problems caused by microchipping, it is imperative that all countries enact and enforce mandatory reporting of all adverse microchip reactions and events. Failure to report problems enables advocates of the technology to perpetuate the myth that microchipping is a safe and reliable form of identification.
Since its inception, the microchip industry has benefited from a lack of strict, objective oversight and regulation. (252-264) In addition, a lack of integrity permeates the industry. (265-282)
The microchip industry has a history of:
- Deceiving the public by advertising that a microchip implant provides safe, reliable, permanent, unique identification that lasts an animal’s lifetime.
- Misleading consumers to believe that all scanners can read the chip implanted in their animal.
- Selling unreliable and incompatible microchips and scanners.
- Selling inaccurate temperature-sensing microchip implants.
- Infringing on the patents of competitors.
- Suing competitors for making false, misleading and unsubstantiated advertising claims that endanger the lives of animals.
It is significant to note that microchip companies have sued competitors and won millions of dollars because of false, misleading and unsubstantiated claims about microchipping, which endanger the health and well-being of animals. (283-287) Nevertheless, the microchip industry continues with the same lies, advocates of microchipping perpetuate the lies, and people are obliged to have a potentially faulty and dangerous microchip (foreign object) implanted in their animals.
Problem of obsolescence
Another significant yet grossly overlooked fact is that technology changes and products become obsolete. So, even if microchips and scanners were as wonderful as advocates of microchipping have led the trusting public to believe, implantable microchips and scanning devices will become obsolete. (288)
The process of removing an implant is an invasive, costly and potentially dangerous procedure. Implanting more chips to replace an obsolete or faulty microchip perpetuates the cycle of problems caused by chipping. Keeping old scanners to read obsolete chips is not practical, while upgrading or replacing obsolete scanners is expensive.
Microchipping does not solve problems; it creates more of them.
When the public learns the truth about microchipping and the lack of integrity that permeates the industry, lawsuits will be filed against: microchip companies; manufacturers; individuals who implant and scan microchips, along with the companies they work for; governments and organizations that require owners to have their animals microchipped; and others involved in microchipping.
Wishing you love, light, courage, honour and integrity
- The public must be advised of the risks and problems associated with microchipping.
- Mandatory microchipping regulations must be repealed.
- All countries must enact and enforce mandatory reporting of all adverse and suspected adverse reactions/events caused by microchip implant technology.
- A clear protocol must be established so that owners know who is responsible for compensating them because of problems caused by chipping, and how they will be compensated.
- Strict, quality-control regulations must be imposed on the microchip industry and enforced by an objective, independent governing organization.
- Owners must maintain their right to choose a safe and reliable form of identification for their animals.
- A potential solution for safe and reliable animal identification includes a combination of a: DNA test; tattoo; freeze brand; valid passport with unique identifying markings; certificate of pedigree or registration papers from a recognized breed registry; or properly fitted identification collar, tailored to the animal and its lifestyle. (289)
Jeanne, on behalf of Léon and all of the animals who have warned us of problems caused by microchipping.
Please click here to read “Are Pet Owners Being Misled Regarding the Safety and Reliability of Microchip Implants?”
Please click here to read “Microchip Implants: Technological Solution or 21st Century Nightmare?”
Please click here to read “Microchip Implants: Questions and Answers”
NOTE: Due to the length of the References section, a separate document has been created. Please click here to visit the complete References section of “Microchipping Lies, Legislation and Lawsuits.”