Microchipping is all the rage. So much so, in fact, legislation has now been brought in to Northern Ireland to make micro-chipping your dog compulsory from April 2012 under the Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
Everybody is promoting it – the RSPCA, animal sanctuaries, councils, vets and the media. You would be forgiven for thinking it is the holy grail of animal welfare, the panacea to cure the problems of abandoned and stray animals. However, statistics obtained from freedom of Information requests to the local councils in Northern Ireland lays this myth to rest once and for all. (see below)
What all these bodies also fail to tell you about is the risks involved to your beloved pet when you decide to microchip, risks that could very well prove fatal. Various scientific studies have shown that between 1% and 10% of laboratory animals have developed cancers around the microchip implant. Outside the laboratory there have been documented cases of cats and dogs also developing carcinomas at the implant site. This should not be surprising, as foreign body tumorogenesis (the growth of cancer cells due to a foreign object being lodged under the skin of an animal or human) is a well established medical problem.
But cancer is not the only illness induced by Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. There have also been cases of adverse tissue reactions and hemorrhaging due to the chip being implanted erroneously; the glass of the chip can break or the chip can migrate to another part of the body when the dog is playing.
Any adverse reactions to implants are supposed to be reported to the Microchip Advisory Board on behalf of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA). However, only one vet in a survey we recently carried out was aware of this reporting procedure. But then why would they be aware as nobody has ever told them there are any risks involved so they will not be looking for any adverse reactions. M.A.G. have admitted themselves that there is under-reporting in this area. And who are the Microchip Advisory Board? They are predominately made up of microchip manufacturers, microchip distributors, and companies that run the microchip databases The conflict of interest is blatant. Why would people making a lot of money from micro-chipping want to highlight the dangers of microchipping?
So, why do people microchip their dogs in the first place? Simply because the public have been overwhelmed by a barrage of propaganda over a number of years telling them that micro-chipping is safe and the best way to protect your pet if it goes missing. The councils, likewise, have been subjected to the same endless proselytizing on the issue convincing many that it will reduce the stray dog population.
So let’s have a closer look at the reasons given for micro-chipping.
The spurious reason why micro-chipping was rammed down the public throats was because it would help curtail dangerous dogs. Apart from the fact this would involve forcing a law on everyone to address a problem created by a miniscule amount of dog owners, it is patently disingenuous as the sort of people that own dangerous dogs will simply not get their dogs micro-chipped or get them from illegal breeders.
The next reason wheeled out was that it would help if your dog was lost, but a collar with an address and phone number does the same thing. (If your dog is stolen, under the Data Protection Act, the company who runs the microchip database cannot legally tell you who has stolen your dog, so that argument is also fallacious. Having a microchip is not proof of ownership)
The next reason given is that it would deter people from letting their dogs roam. Well the only way to do this would be to fine the owners and to make it substantial but if you do that the owners would just take the dog to pound for rehoming or just take it to the vets to get put down which would probably cost less than the fine. If an owner doesn’t care enough and lets his dog risk being run over on the road by letting it wander around without a lead, then he doesn’t really care about the dog at all, so he isn’t going to pay any fines.
The idea was partly sold to animal sanctuaries because they were told it would help them re-unite the animals with their owners. There is one major flaw in this argument. The vast majority of animals, particularly dogs that 7th Heaven take in, from whatever source (and presumably this will be the same for most charities) are animals that have been given up by their owners. You can microchip a dog up to its eyeballs but you can’t re-unite it with an owner that doesn’t want it.
In the genuine cases where a dog escapes, a collar and tag with owner’s details will be just as good for getting the dog back to its owner. In fact, it would be better as any member of the public can read the details of the tag and contact the owner whereas it takes someone with a scanner to read a microchip. Someone would either have to phone the dog warden and wait until he collected it and got it back to the pound before the owner would be contacted or whoever found the dog would have to get it to their nearest vet or council to have it scanned and not too many people are going to go to that trouble. In addition to this, if the dog has changed hands, the microchip details may not be correct as every time a dog gets a new owner that new owner must pay to have the details updated on the microchip database.
So when all the arguments are dispelled the only reason left would appear to be money. By the microchip manufacturers own admission a profit of between 200% and 400 % can be made per microchip. That, of course, is only for the charities or vets that actually do the micro-chipping; it doesn’t say how much profit the actual manufacturers will make.
Certainly the one thing that does not seem to be taken into account is the dog’s welfare as the dangers are never mentioned to the public.
Here is what Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York had to say about RFID implants, "There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members."
Proof That Microchipping Doesn't Work!
One of the fallacies put forward as truth by the pro-microchipping lobby is that more dogs will be re-united with their owners, when microchipping is made compulsory. This is the reason why most members of the public who agree with micro-chipping support it.
Well, we can now lay to rest this myth once and for all. Under a freedom of Information Request, 7th Heaven has received the statistics from the local council pounds in Northern Ireland for the last 4 years – two years preceding the introduction of compulsory microchipping in April 2012 and the two years after the act was introduced*.
These figures have been produced below.
Dogs Taken in Dogs Returned to Owners % figure of dogs returned
2010/11 6766 2252 33.28%
2011/12 6708 2102 31.34%
Introduction of Compulsory microchipping April2012
2012/13 6242 1970 31.56%
2013/14* 5895 2002 33.96%
Total number of dogs reunited to owners prior to legislation – 32.31%
Total number of dogs reunited to owners after legislation – 32.63%
The most glaringly obvious statistic, and the one that proves the fallacy of compulsory microchipping, is the percentage of dogs re-united with their owners. They are virtually identical for the period before and after compulsory microchipping was introduced. You must also take into account the fact that it is also law in N.Ireland to have dogs displaying a tag with name and phone number so a lot of the dogs re-united with their owners would have been returned even if they weren’t microchipped. It is obvious that microchipping dogs, with all the inherent health dangers, makes no difference whatsoever to the percentage of dogs reunited with their owners. There are absolutely no benefits at all.
You will notice that the actual number of dogs being taken in after compulsory micorchipping was introduced compared to before its introduction is lower. This may look like a good thing. However, since the law was introduced, at least one council, Belfast City Council, refuses to take in unwanted dogs. They will only take in strays. Therefore if you do not want your dog anymore, you have nowhere to go as most charities are full with waiting lists that are months long. As you cannot just dump it outside to fend for itself, because the microchip will trace it back to you, the obvious answer to some people, unfortunately, is to put the dog down. The fact that some councils are also now charging to take in dogs and that can be more expensive than euthanasia means that owners may well be resorting to the lethal option.
So much for compulsory microchipping being in the best interests of dogs.
*Statistics for the 2013/14 year where extrapolated from the 6 month period April 2013 to September 2014 as the request was made in October 2013
Compulsory Microchipping has been in place in Northern Ireland from April 2012. You may not be aware that under clause 2 paragraph 9 of the Dogs Amendment Act Northern Ireland a microchip is not needed "if the keeper of the dog produces to the council a certificate signed by a veterinary surgeon to the effect that implantation (or continued implantation) of a microchip in the dog would have an adverse effect on the health of the dog".
If you are worried about your dog having an adverse reaction to a microchip implant, discuss this with your vet and try to get an exemption certificate.
The Scientific Studies
Study 1 - Le Calvez et al., 2006: "Subcutaneous microchip-associated tumours in B6C3F1 mice: A retrospective study to attempt to determine their histogenesis." Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. 2006;57:255—265.
Summary: Microchips were implanted into 1,260 experimental mice for identification purposes as part of a larger study. Two years later, 4.1% of the mice had developed malignant tumors at the site of the microchip implantation. The cancers were directly attributed to the microchips.
Excerpts: "Most of the animals with microchip-associated tumors died prematurely...due to the size of the masses [or] the deaths were spontaneous and attributed to the masses." // "One of the most potentially serious disadvantages of the microchip implantation is the possibility that foreign-body-induced tumours may develop."
Study 2 - Vascellari, Melchiotti, & Mutinelli, 2006: "Fibrosarcoma with typical features of postinjection sarcoma at site of microchip implant in a dog: Histologic and immunohistochemical study." Veterinary Pathology.2006;43:545—548.
Summary: A 9-year-old bulldog developed a cancerous tumor (fibrosarcoma) adjacent to a microchip implant approximately seven months after being implanted with the device. Researchers attributed the tumor to either the microchip or to vaccinations at the site, and called for better reporting of adverse reactions to microchip implants and vaccinations.
Study 3 - Vascellari et al., 2004: "Liposarcoma at the site of an implanted microchip in a dog." The Veterinary Journal. 2004;168:188--190.
Summary: An 11-year-old dog developed a cancerous tumor (liposarcoma) around a microchip that had been implanted approximately 19 months earlier. The tumor was removed and the dog recovered.
Excerpts: "The intact microchip was found completely embedded within the mass...[and] a diagnosis of low-grade liposarcoma was made." // "Veterinary surgeons are... encouraged to check the microchips that have been implanted in pets at least annually, such as when they come in for vaccinations, and report any adverse reaction."
Study 4- Elcock et al., 2001: "Tumors in long-term rat studies associated with microchip animal identification devices." Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. 2001;52:483--491.
Summary: 1,040 rats were implanted with microchip implants for identification purposes as part of a larger study. After two years, just under 1% had developed malignant tumors surrounding the implants. The researchers attributed the tumors to the presence of the microchip, and referred to them as "microchip-induced."
Excerpts: "Electronic microchip technology as a means of animal identification may affect animal moribundity and mortality [i.e., illness and death rates], due to the large size and rapid growth of microchip-induced tumors as well as the occurrence of metastases." "Most tumors arising from foreign bodies are malignant . . . and have a rapid growth rate, killing the animal in a matter of weeks."
Study 5 - Blanchard et al., 1999: "Transponder-induced sarcoma in the heterozygous p53+/- mouse." Toxicologic Pathology. 1999;27(5):519--527.
Summary: 177 genetically modified mice were implanted with microchips for identification purposes as part of a chemical compound study. After six months, 18 of the mice (10.2%) had developed malignant tumors ("undifferentiated sarcomas") around the microchips. The tumors occurred in both experimental and control animals.
Excerpts: "There was an unequivocal association between the [microchip implant] transponder and sarcoma that was unrelated to drug treatment." // "The presence of the foreign body [microchip transponder] may elicit tissue reactions capable of generating genotoxic byproducts."
Study 6 - Palmer et al., 1998: "Fibrosarcomas associated with passive integrated transponder implants." Toxicologic Pathology. 1998;26:170.
Summary: 800 mice were implanted with microchips for identification purposes as part of a larger study. After two years 2% of the mice had developed cancerous tumors (fibrosarcomas) around the implants.
Excerpt: "All tumors were observed. . .at or near the implantation site. . .[the tumors] were attached to the implant or partially or totally encased the implant."
Study 7 - Tillmann et al., 1997: "Subcutaneous soft tissue tumours at the site of implanted microchips in mice."Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. 1997;49:197--200.
Summary: 4,279 mice were injected with microchip implants for identification purposes as part of a larger study. Of these, 36 developed malignant tumors (fibrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma) that were "clearly due to the implanted microchips." Control animals as well as experimental animals developed the tumors.
Excerpts: "The neoplasms induced in the present investigation are clearly due to the implanted microchips." "Further information on [tumors] induced by microchips, e.g., experiments on their chemical components (glass and polypropylene cap), or the physical presence of the implant alone are necessary."
Study 8 - Johnson, K., 1996: "Foreign-body tumorigenesis: Sarcomas induced in mice by subcutaneously implanted transponders." Toxicologic Pathology. 1996; 33(5):619. Abstract #198.
Summary: A two-year Dow Chemical study of 2,000 mice found an approximately 1% incidence of sarcomas surrounding microchip implants used for identification purposes. The tumors appeared in both control and experimental animals. This was consistent with a diagnosis of foreign-body-induced sarcoma.
Excerpt: "Investigators using. . . implanted devices need to be aware of foreign-body tumorigenesis [cancer development] when evaluating the results of long term studies using mice."
Puppy's Life Endangered by Microchip
7th Heaven continues its campaign to highlight the dangers of microchips and a recent case reported to us from an Australian lady shows exactly why the compulsory legislation in Northern Ireland needs to be re-examined.
Jenny bought an 8 week-old pup from a breeder. The dog had been micro-chipped prior to her getting him. With 2-3 weeks lump appeared on the back of the dog’s neck. Initially the vet thought it was an adverse reaction to the vaccination as vaccinations can cause vaccinosis, ie cancerous tumours and other allergic reactions. However, the swelling continued to grow until it became the size of a cricket ball and began bleeding. The dog was rushed into emergency surgery where an enormous abscess was discovered completely surrounding the microchip which was subsequently removed.The wound had to be drained for five days and the pup was put on a course of antibiotics.
This is not the first case, nor will it be the last, where a dog’s life is put in danger because of a microchip and the blinkered attitude of the pro-micro-chipping lobby. Equally disturbing is the fact that the vet is insisting he has to re-inset the chip once the pup recovers.
We have advised Jenny to check out Australia’s micro-chipping legislation as there may be an exemption clause, as there is in Northern Ireland’s legislation, whereby if a vet says it may adversely effect the health of your pet you can avoid getting them micro-chipped. We have also asked for a copy of the vets report.
If any of our readers’ pets have suffered due to microchip implants please let us know as we will be reporting them to DARD in an attempt to get the compulsory micro-chipping clause of the Dog Amendment act repealed.
Beagles Killed in Microchip Study!
Despite the pro-microchipping lobby’s success at cajoling our local assembly and the Department of Regional Development to make the micro-chipping of dogs compulsory, 7th Heaven will continue to highlight the dangers of this unnecessary and pointless medical procedure. To emphasise the lack of transparency involved in the microchipping industry we have unearthed some disturbing information involving a company involved in the manufacture of RFID microchip implants.
Destron Fearing is an American company that manufactures microchips. As such, they enlisted scientists to carry out a study in 1994 to ascertain how well the Bio-Bond polymer sheath of the microchip helped prevent migration i.e. the movement of the chip through the body away from the point of initial implant. They concluded that they had 100% success rate i.e. no chip moved from its point of origin. However, after 7th Heaven located the research, we were shocked to find some very disturbing revelations.
The initial study sample involved 148 Beagles. By the end of the experiment there were only 37 Beagles left. 111 had been euthanized in the middle of the study. The reason given for this was ‘This facility euthanizes a fixed number of animals annually to rotate their genetic program, which accounts for the reduction in test animals from 148 to the current 37”. Horrified by the killing of the dogs and mystified by their reasoning, we contacted Destron Fearing and asked them “Is this normal scientific procedure? I can't understand why these animals would be euthanized in mid study. Why not wait until after the study was complete. Did the animals have some sort of reaction to the chips? I am a little confused, could you possibly enlighten me?
”They responded by saying, “The company has changed hands twice since 1994 and there is no corporate memory on this trial. Since then however, millions of microchips using the Biobond cap have been implanted in dogs all around the world with very positive results and it is still a product in wide scale use today across multiple species.”
As this did not in any way answer our question and, are in fact, denying knowledge of it, we asked them again for an explanation. They have not responded.
Unwilling to let the matter rest, we located one of the scientists involved in the experiment, a Martha A Acosta and asked her the same question we asked Destron Fearing. Her very terse response was. “we needed to measure the migration (distance) of the microchip from the implant site.”
Again there was no mention of why the Beagles had been killed in mid-study. Again we tried to follow this up by repeating our original query but have received no further response from Ms Acosta.
At the very least the killing of the beagles, thus removing 75% of the scientific sample, makes the study void or disingenuous. We are told microchips are safe but if this is the sort of study being used to come to this conclusion, then we must be extremely wary of this conclusion. But does the reason given by the organisers of the study make any sense? Why, if they believed animals needed to be euthanized to uphold the genetic stock was this not done prior to or after the study. Nobody who believes in scientific methodology could possibly believe that removing the vast majority of the study sample could ever produce scientifically valid and truthful answers.
So, the questions remain. If the reason given makes no sense, what other reason could there be? Did the chips migrate in the other 111 Beagles and they therefore had to be removed from the study to produce the desired result - a 100% success rate? Did the chips cause illnesses in the study sample and they had to be euthanized because they could no longer be used in any further
The fact remains that 111 Beagles were needlessly killed to study the effects of microchip implants in animals. The bottom line is this is an example of unnecessary experiments, unnecessary suffering, and unnecessary deaths for an unnecessary device which has no medical benefits whatsoever for the canine community.
How much longer can the pro-microchipping lobby continue to say that microchipping is only done for the welfare of the animals? 111 deaths are 111 too many, but how many more experiments like this are being carried out worldwide? How many more animals will die in a laboratory and how many more will die and suffer when their implant migrates or cause carcinomas? And for what – so that we can save ourselves a bit of time ringing around the local pounds to find out what happened to our escaped dog and instead wait for Petlog to call us and tell us what we could easily have found out ourselves? I hope the people who believe in the cult of micro-chipping think it’s worth it.
As 7th Heaven have previously reported, there are not only severe health issues associated with RFID implants, there are also ongoing problems with the technology itself which frequently renders them useless. Virbac, manufacturer of Backhome Biotec microchips have issued a letter to all animal charities alerting them to the possibility that a batch of their chips may be malfunctioning. They will be informing individual owners to take their dog to the vets to possibly have a second chip implanted and therefore doubling thier risk of getting cancer! It's all in the best interests of the dogs, of course!
Latest cases of adverse reactions to microchipping
We will continue to research this and will update you on any new information or cases of which we are made aware. Below are two cases that have been directly reported to us recently.
Case 1. A 12 week old pup was microchipped. Two weeks later it had developed a lump on its neck at the implant site. When the vet opened the lump it was badly infected and the chip had to be removed.
Case 2. A young, adult, male dog was microchipped. 12 months later it developed a lump near its ear. When the vet inspected it, it was discovered that lump was severely infected and the microchip had migrated from the implant site, all the way around the dog's neck to its ear. 1 1/2 inches of the dog's damaged neck tissue had to be removed and the dog received 29 stitches.
In addition to these two cases, we have also been made aware of a survey on the adverse effects of microchipping carried out by Shallowford - a kennel that breeds golden retrievers and Labradors. Please find below the results of that survey conducted in June 2011-
88.9% of owners said their dog/puppy was microchipped.
12.5% of owners say their puppy/dog has so far suffered an adverse side effect to microchipping.
37.5% of owners would not have had their puppy/dog chipped had they been informed of possible side effects.
Only 25% of owners feel they were given full, fair and balanced information about microchipping.
62.5% were not given any details at all of the possible side effects
As you can see, of those owners that had their dog chipped, 12.5 % reported adverse side effects. The pro-microchipping lobby would have you believe that micorchipping is totally safe. The survey, the cases above, and all of those other studies mentioned on our website, prove otherwise.
In a response to questions we put to DARD via Stephen Agnew, MLA, the department did admit that there was a very small risk of adverse side effects occurring after microchipping. In one laboratory study, 10% of mice developed tumours. In the Shallowford survey above, 12.5% dogs had adverse reactions. These figures do not suggest the risk is small. These figures are statistically significant and suggest the risk is far greater than what we, and you, as pet owners are being told. And, even if the risk was small, microchipping has no medical benefit whatsoever, so why be forced to take that risk at all when your pet could end up seriously ill, or worse.
Please visit our website on a regular basis to see all the latest news on the dangers of microchipping. If your pet has experienced adverse side effects after being chipped please contact us. Also consider your legal options and ensure your vet reports it to the Microchip Advisory Group.
Adverse effects to microchip implants in horses
Below is an article by journalist Caroline Davis about the dangers of microchipping horses:
Chips… hard to swallow!
Could microchips be causing behaviour and health problems - such as unusual lumps, head-shaking or one-sided stiffness - in equines? As Caroline Davis discovered, the answer is ‘yes’.
If someone told you they were going to insert a foreign body into your horse’s nuchal ligament - a vital area that affects movement - whether you liked it or not what would you say? Further, this foreign body has had no long-term independent research carried out on its effects in a horse’s body to check whether it’s safe?
This foreign body comprises a microchip and whether you like the idea of one being implanted in your horse or not, in most cases you don’t have a choice. Microchipping horses in the UK (for those born on or after 1 July 2009, or any horse requiring a new passport after this date) is the law. Thoroughbreds in the UK and Irish racing industry have been compulsorily chipped since 1999.
Says the British Horse Society: ‘This [passports] is a legal requirement throughout the European Union, to fulfill the criteria of identification, disease control and to ensure that any animal treated with veterinary medicines not authorised for use in food-producing animals does not enter the human food chain. If the UK had not complied with this law, we would have risked losing 70 percent of horse medicines that are currently available.’
Even before it was made compulsory, microchipping was hailed by many vets, and exponents of chips, as a safe and permanent means of identification to safeguard equines against theft and owners from fraud.
In addition, chips combined with passports will, say the powers-that-are, keep the food chain clean (the UK exports horse meat to the Continent for human consumption) by ensuring that those treated with certain drugs would not end up on dinner plates.
Two horse owners who have had to deal with one side effect of chipping – and who are furious that people are forced to have their horses chipped - are top Dutch sports horse dealers Henk Buitenhuis and his son, Frank.
Says Frank: “About a year ago one of our horses, a four-year-old gelding, developed a lump on his neck. We thought it could be something to do with the microchip, but our vet said no, he didn’t think it could be and to just keep our eye on it and let him know if it developed further.
“Well, the lump just got bigger and bigger over the next few weeks so we called out the vet again and he scanned it – and the chip could be seen at the centre of the mass. Our vet opened up the lump, which turned out to be a huge abscess that had formed around the chip. He drained the abscess and removed the chip
“We’ve heard of other people who’ve had problems with chips due to them migrating and/or not being able to be read. This whole mandatory thing is ridiculous – we don’t like it one bit, but without a chip your horse cannot be transported or go to shows and so forth.”
Driving trials world champion and top trainer IJsbrand Chardon, and his wife Paulien, are against mandatory microchipping of horses, but have no choice in the matter.
Says the Chardons, who are based in Holland: “In our view, chips are not good things to put in horses’ bodies. We are totally against it because the risk involved is much too great. It can cost you a good horse through health problems caused by chips - and one horse is too much!
“As far as being effective at controlling equine movement goes, we have found that hardly any checks are carried out at competitions - since mandatory chipping was brought in 2009 we have only had two checks done on our horses.
“So, to us, microchipping is a totally pointless – and costly at 75 euros per horse for a chip and passport - beaurocratic exercise, as well as being potentially risky.”
Annemieke Bos, who lives in Germany, has been aware of the potential side effects of microchipping horses for some years and, with other like-minded horse owners who formed Group Nijhof, has been highlighting problems associated with it via the group’s website to help raise people's awareness.
On this site, Group Nijhof reveals some disturbing case histories – here are a couple of them:
1. In April 2004, a two-year-old colt was chipped. The following day he was lame. The lameness became progressively worse and no cause for this could be found; some vets thought it could be wobblers.
By July 2004 the colt had started head-shaking and had co-ordination problems. On 10 July he lost his balance and fell over; he had to be euthanized.
2. Jack was a Shetland Pony foal who was chipped three weeks after weaning. He seemed fine after the procedure, but two days later his back legs were stiff. He seemed to improve over the next four days, but then fell over in the field and couldn’t get up. The vet said it was a problem with his poll, and that the microchip couldn’t be the cause, although Jack had flinched when implanted. Sadly, Jack died.
Annemieke says: “Because chipping can cause problems with health - bending to the left is being repeatedly named as a problem after chipping - and is vulnerable to fraud, Group Nijhof is campaigning for a more humane and non-invasive alternative to, such as freeze-marking, DNA testing or iris scans.”
“Anything but safe!”
While many veterinary surgeons promote microchipping, there are others that view it as a bad thing to do to horses and other creatures.One British vet said to me recently that while he will microchip clients’ pets on request, there’s no way he’d implant his own animals. Some other vets I spoke to said they were unaware of any microchip problems whatsoever in any animal, or commented that any reactions were extremely rare. However, several non-UK-based specialist equine vets hold the opinion that chipping horses is potentially dangerous.
Dutch vet Dr Eric Laarakker heads the Den Hoek veterinary clinic in Holland and sees many equine clients. He and three colleagues share the opinion that “chipping horses is anything but safe”.
In June 2005 that Dr Laarakker’s suspicions that chips were causing ailments in horses were confirmed when he treated a horse, Lady Santana, with a severe head-shaking problem. He states that Lady Santana was ‘shaking her head excessively, tilting her head, and lowering her head so much that her nose was practically rubbing the ground. In short: she did not know where to put her head.
‘After medical examination it became clear that the horse could not bend her neck to the left. Further examination showed that she had a very painful spot and nerve damage at the exact place where the chip had been injected. The owner told us that the problems had started after the horse had been chipped.
“This is not the first time that we've seen a horse with problems as a result of chipping.
‘We came to the conclusion that the chipping procedure resulted in nerve damage. All vets in our clinic share the opinion that chipping horses is anything but safe. There is too little evidence that chipping horses is safe, short- or long-term. We argue in favour of thorough research to determine what consequences exist before chipping is applied extensively.
Today, Dr Laarakker says: “A microchip is something that does not belong in the body. I find it weird that we live in a world where something like this can be put on the market, and implanted in animals, without it first being proved that it is not harmful.
“I have seen other equines where microchips have caused them problems, such as compromised neck movement, but not as severe as in the Lady Santana case where she had neurological problems caused by the chip. She is still unrideable.”
As to whether the insertion of a microchip in the nuchal ligament could, or would, affect a horse's performance in any way, Dr Laarakker says: “Yes, of course it can. Putting a big needle into a ligament will destroy ligament tissue, and you will get scar tissue forming at the site. If you are lucky, scar tissue doesn’t do anything harmful - and in fact helps to hold the microchip in place - but it could.
“So it’s impossible to say that microchipping is not harmful as it can sometimes cause problems with neck movement, and to say that chips cannot move is nonsense – they can and do sometimes.”
Dr Katherine Albrecht is an expert on the dangers of microchipping. Here are some links to extracts of her radio programmes on the subject.
Katherine Albrecht interviews attorney Stephen Wise re. lawsuit by Andrea Rutherford against Merck Sharp & Dohme and Digital Angel (Bulkin the cat - microchip/cancer case).