Microchipping Dogs: Government Ignoring Common Sense

In continuation of a proposal first pushed by Labour, the Coalition Government are going full force behind plans to microchip all puppies in England with details of the owner. The reason? They claim it will help reduce attacks by dangerous dogs, but does that really make logical sense?

The controversial chips that are implanted under the animal’s skin will store the name and address of the owner, as well as a unique number to identify the dog in a database open to the RSPCA, a charity that ordinarily would be breaching data protection laws by accessing the information. As well as all puppies, the proposal seeks to chip existing dogs before they can be sold on or handed in to rescue centres. According to estimates the procedure will cost between £5 and £35.

Although the news cycles are repeating the proposal every hour today, even stating that “some dog charities say it just isn’t enough”, ministers and mainstream media outlets completely fail to address the fundamental question. How will microchipping tackle the problem of dangerous dogs?

The Blue Cross pet charity have been framed in to the debate to bolster the proposal because they support legislation that would muzzle dogs after instances of anti-social behavior, but they openly claim that microchipping “will not help to protect the public from dog attacks or tackle the wider problems of irresponsible ownership.”[1]

Common sense tells us that irresponsible owners or yobs who lack the ability to train stronger dogs, are not all of a sudden going to gain the motivation or ability to train their dogs correctly just because they are microchipped. The presence of a chip cannot physically stop an attack or freak accident. Angela McGlynn the mother of John Paul Massey admitted during an interview with the BBC this morning that: “It wouldn’t have made a difference at all” if the dog who mauled her 4 year old son to death was microchipped. The pitbull, which she claims she didn’t know was a pitbull “grew up around the children” and there was no inclination the dog would harm them [2]. Although officials have jumped on incidents like this to ambiguously ban “pitbull type dogs” [3], it is clearly a case of ignorance, poor dog ownership and poor parenting skills, not something a chip is going to solve.

Furthermore those involved in the illegal dog scene and dog fighting are already dangerous criminals and do not follow the law, why would they get their illegal dogs microchipped in the first place. To have themselves arrested?

Trevor Cooper, a solicitor from www.doglaw.co.uk, reiterated:

“On the question of whether it will prevent attacks in the first place, this is not a magic wand.”
“A chip will not make a dog less vicious…This is not a solution to the dangerous dog problem.”

The police, who are in the thick of it, do not like the proposal either. Kit Malthouse, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority told the Daily Mail “…we don’t want a DVLA for dogs, just greater power and penalties to deal with the worst cases.”[4]

With seemingly everyone but the government agreeing that microchipping is not the answer, one has to wonder who they are representing and whether there’s an ulterior motive. Is it simply another veiled addition to the surveillance state? One extra database to keep track of everyone? Or is it perhaps a stealth tax during a time of austerity?

Victoria Brown, public affairs manager at the Kennel Club, suggested the government are using the wrong pretext to sell microchipping to the public [5], but not what the real reason for the proposal might be:

“We are worried that this is being sold by ministers as an issue around dangerous dogs,” she said.

“If ministers say these chips will allow us to contact you if your dog does something wrong, then people will be frightened to comply. It should instead be presented as a way to enable people to find their much-loved pet again if they go missing.”

It seems the people baring the brunt of the new legislation will once again be the upstanding law abiding members of the public.

One member of the establishment did raise and important point however. Lord Renton of Mount Henry, a former Tory minister, urged the government to think carefully before insisting on compulsory microchipping because many dogs “took badly” to having a chip inserted [6].

Health concerns have always been strong surrounding microchipping, with many anecdotal cases of pets developing cancerous tumors around the sites of implanted chips and studies quantifying peoples fears. Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a consumer advocate and expert on side effects associated with implantable microchips reports that: A series of research articles produced over more than a decade showed that mice and rats injected with glass-encapsulated RFID transponder implants developed malignant, fast-growing, lethal cancers in 1% to 10% of cases. The tumours were formed in the tissue around the microchips and often grew all around the devices, the researchers said.[7]

Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist and leader of a 1996 study told the Washington Post that the transponders that hold information, such as medical records, or in this case dog owners details…“were the cause of the tumors.”[8]

Links to various studies can be found @ www.chipmenot.org/scientificevidence.htm

The Government will officially announce their plans today.

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