[ EDITORIAL ]
Mandatory Microchips: Big Brother Is Watching
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.
Sixty-four years after the publishing of "1984," England has decided to require that all dogs be microchipped for identification purposes. What would George Orwell think of this Big Brother mandate?
We won't presume to put words in the renowned author's mouth, but we hope he would raise this salient point:
A low-tech dog tag is probably more practical, in most cases, than a newer microchip (as much as $50 costlier).
Not to besmirch the new technology: It can allow animal shelters and veterinarians with scanners to track down owners of lost, abandoned, maltreated or dangerous pets.
But most people who come across a strange dog don't have a scanner to read the microchip.
PETS ON THE LOOSE
On either side of the Atlantic, dogs on the loose are not an uncommon dilemma.
Take two recent cases:
One dog was spotted alone on the sidewalk. He was exploring tentatively, as though on unfamiliar turf. Without a collar or tag, it was hard to to be sure. Decision: Let him move along on his own, trusting some instinct that he'd stay away from cars and get home safely — somewhere nearby, hopefully but worrisomely.
Another dog had gotten loose. He wore a tag. Voila! One quick phone call reunited him with his family, who'd briefly lost track of him while they were moving furniture into a new home.
The lesson is that tags are still needed, along with microchips.
Indeed, the national Humane Society of the U.S. said, "microchips aren't foolproof, and you shouldn't rely on them exclusively to protect your pet." One frequent drawback of the chip is that pet owners can fail to update the ID database after they move. A scan then produces out-of-date address and phone numbers, defeating the purpose.
Microchipping is worthwhile if it reins in irresponsible or cruel human behaviors that contribute to pet overpopulation, injury and illegal dog fighting. These are serious issues that haunt the conscience and consume considerable public resources.
But if the main idea is simply to reunite a dog and its human without fuss, don't forget the tag — in case Big Brother is watching someone else when Fido gets loose.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.