"Dog in Field" (via ViginiaDogBoarding.com)
Man’s best friend or man’s greatest invention? Both are commonly used when speaking of human relationship with their canine counterpart. As the microchipping of pets continues to grow in popularity, it becomes evident that dogs are also becoming a technological extension of ourselves. Like a car, which requires a vehicle identification number, or government mandated gun registrations, dogs, are now moving into a similar grouping with mandated microchipping coming soon to the United Kingdom.
The process involves the injection of a hermetically sealed RFID chip encased in a biocompatible soda lime glass. The RFID chip, which contains an integrated circuit, a capacitor, and an inductor coil, remains inactive until a scanner is used to activate and read data from the device. Thus, the microchip does not actually track the pet like a GPS, but rather it acts as an electronic registration device that can trace a lost or stolen pet back to its rightful owner. The logic behind microchipping is similar to the normal pet registration form, though it avoids the complication caused by owners who forget to submit registration forms or a pet losing its collar.
It may be a tough decision to make for pet owners, though folks in North Ireland don’t seemingly have a choice after it became the first part of the UK to require microchipping last April. According to the United Kingdom’s Environment Department, about 60% of the nation’s 8 million dogs are already micro-chipped. Come 2016, unwilling dog owners will have to pay fines up to £500 (~$780) rather than the one time $25-$50 to have their pets micro-chipped.
"It's a shame that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down," says Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. "Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners."
There are several reported benefits of having pets, primarily dogs, microchipped. Dogs that are abandoned, lost, or stolen can be promptly returned to their owners as long as they are returned and scanned by a shelter with the right equipment. Shelters would feel in immediate impact with a reduction in the number of strays, crowding, and euthanasia rates. In the United States alone, about 8 million animals end up in animal shelters every year 15-20% of which are dogs. England also hopes that microchipping will cut down on the amount of vicious dog attacks, making pet owners responsible for their animals.
As controversial as a topic as it may be, there are many clear benefits and very little side effects. A pet may feel a pinch from the initial injection to implant the device, and only a tiny amount of pets have had adverse reactions to the implant. Ultimately, the decision is in the dog owners hands.