I was pleased to read the article about microchipping by Jem Vanston in the March edition of The Daily Mews. In the United States, microchipping is optional for dogs and cats. I am pleased to know it is now a requirement for all dogs in the UK and I hope this trend will continue for cats as well and eventually spread to the United States and other places as well.
I think we need to go one step beyond microchipping, that would be to require all veterinarian hospitals and shelters to scan for these chips before performing euthanasia. At this time, there are no laws in the United States that require this. I have been corresponding with my state
(Massachusetts) representative to make this into a law in our state. It may sound a little odd to want this to be law, but I think it will save many pets.
Recently, my friend lost her cat very tragically and it wouldn’t have happened if this law were in place. My friend’s daughter, actually she is also my friend. I will just call her M for this post. M had a very sweet older grey cat named Reggie. He was friendly with everyone and great with her 11-year-old son and her 1-year-old daughter. Reggie was an indoor only cat, but like many cats, he was tempted by the sights and smells of the outdoors. One day, a few weeks ago, he escaped through the front door as M was carrying the baby and all her equipment inside. He had done this a few times before and came right to her when he was called so she set the baby down and went back out for him. This time, he was not in sight and didn’t come when called.
An older neighbour in the same complex (a row of 12 townhouses) has 3 grey cats. Her cats are indoor/outdoor and she also has a dog. At some point in the short time M was in her apartment, this woman grabbed Reggie and brought him into her apartment thinking it was one of her cats. Reggie was afraid of dogs and acted aggressively toward her dog. The lady panicked and thought one of her cats was rabid (I know, you are probably thinking all the thoughts I was when I heard this story - how do you mistake someone’s cat for your own? and rabies is so uncommon in cats? Hers all had their vaccines so why think he had it? )
She called the vet hospital and they told her that her cats were up-to-date on their shots. She claimed they all look alike and maybe she brought one in twice and had missed one. She brought Reggie in and insisted he be euthanized. They tried to convince her to let them hold him for a quarantine, but she wanted him euthanized. Then she gets home and discovers all 3 cats are there. She called the vet and told them so they checked for a microchip and discovered it was M’s cat. Needless to say M was heartbroken as well as her son. He wouldn’t even stay in the apartment for days and would pet a blanket pretending it was Reggie.
M has asked me to share this story so nothing like this ever happens again. I contacted a state representative and he was more than cooperative to work on a law that all cats and dogs being euthanized have a mandatory microchip scan. I was at the vet’s today so I asked what the cost of a microchip scanner was as part of my research. This led to a discussion with more to think about for this law.
One question was, if you are a grieving owner and bring your pet in for euthanization - are you going to be mad that they want to scan for a microchip? I would not be mad if I was told it was a law to protect animals. One of the vets also pointed out that the rabies law needs to be changed so is not a first option. Quarantine should be required, but then some hospitals don’t have the space to quarantine and some owners would not be willing to pay for boarding. This also led to a conversation about the lack of rights pets have, they are only considered property and basically have no real rights. I wish I could change all that, but for now, I want to work on the microchip scan and the rabies law. Until there are laws in place, I highly recommend a collar with a name tag on all pets. I am planning to do this, although where I live, I would be more concerned with coyotes than a neighbour.
I know that rabies is not an issue in the UK, but there are other reasons to require chip scans. For example, what if a neighbour didn’t like someone’s dog so they steal it and bring it into a vet clinic requesting euthanasia saying it bit someone. Maybe a scorned lover would do the same? I have not heard of either of these things happening, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they did.
I think microchips are incredible inventions, but they only work if they are implanted in one’s pet and places have the technology to scan for them. I highly recommend everyone microchip their pets and do their part in changing laws to make the chips and scans required instead of optional. Do you know what the laws are about microchipping where you live? Until microchips are commonplace, all pets should have a collar (breakaway kind for cats) and an ID tag with your name and phone number.