Mandatory Microchipping

Every day, innocent animals are being put to death because people neglect to spay or neuter their companion animals. This is a horrible tragedy that can be substantially reduced. Sadly, the pet overpopulation crisis knows no borders. It is a horrific problem with devastating consequences that are felt in every corner of the world.

For over 25 years ISAR has worked against heavy odds to make a dent in the indiscriminate breeding and human ignorance that leads to the killing of millions of healthy, but homeless animals globally each year.

One might be surprised that ISAR is discussing mandatory microchipping in connection with the worldwide problem of companion animal overpopulation.

Usually, dogs and cats are microchipped in an effort to locate them if they stray or are stolen.[1] Indeed, the print and broadcast media frequently run stories about heartwarming reunions of Fido and Fluffy with their bereft custodians. Nonetheless, as we shall see, there is an important connection between microchipping of companion animals and the scourge of their overpopulation.

That connection is the straying, abandonment, and reproducing of unchipped dogs and cats.

The fact is that even today when many dogs and cats are microchipped it is extremely difficult, mostly impossible, to find the custodian of a stray or abandoned dog or cat which, left to their own devices, will reproduce in the street — as will their progeny — at an alarming rate.

Unfortunately, no state in this country imposes mandatory microchipping, although there are some municipalities which have such laws. Several countries do require microchipping, but only for dogs.

The arguments in support of mandatory microchipping are usually that lost pets can be recovered (as many are), that the implant is virtually permanent, the cost is negligible, and central registries are maintained on computers allowing instant identification when the chip is read.

But apart from the humane considerations, the strongest argument for microchipping — and thus return of the animal to its custodian, or penalizing the abandoner strongly enough so that he is disinclined to do it again — is that the dog or cat is off the street and not reproducing.

A Microchip Study conducted by Ohio State University[2] with data collected from fifty-three shelters in twenty-three states covering 7,700 animals showed the custodians were found for seventy-three percent of microchipped pets. Extrapolating those figures across the United States year-after-year it is obvious that literally uncountable numbers of dogs and cats were never born. If every dog and cat in the United States was microchipped, the number of the unwanted would be reduced incalculably.

Model Statute

WHEREAS, there is in this jurisdiction a large population of stray dogs and cats; and

WHEREAS, the source of those dogs and cats varies, but includes those who have escaped from their homes, those who have been abandoned, and their street-born progeny; and

WHEREAS, these dogs and cats, through no fault of their own, have an adverse impact on the public health, safety, welfare, and environment; and

WHEREAS, the impact of these animals includes but is not limited to the transmission of disease, the injury of humans and other animals, the creation of hazards to vehicular traffic, and the drain of public finances; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interests of the public health, welfare, safety, and environment that the numbers of these animals be considerably reduced, if not eliminated altogether; and

WHEREAS, one method of reducing those numbers is to provide for the efficient restoration of those animals to their custodians or shelters, pound, humane societies, and rescue organizations, and to punish persons who abandoned these animals,

NOW, THEREFORE, be it enacted as follows:

Section 1. Short title.

This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Mandatory Dog and Cat Microchipping Act.

Section 2.  Mandatory microchipping.

No shelter, pound, humane society, rescue organization, or similar organization, whether public or private, whose principal purpose is securing the adoption of dogs and cats, shall release any such animal to its owner, custodian or an adopter unless the dog or cat has first been microchipped.

Every breeder, purchaser, or other person or entity coming into possession of an unchipped dog or cat is required within 30 days to have the animal microchipped.

Section 3.  Medical exceptions to sterilization

(a)  No dog or cat need be microchipped if a licensed veterinarian, exercising appropriate professional judgment, shall certify in writing and under oath that an animal is medically unfit for the microchipping procedure because of a physical condition which would be substantially aggravated by such procedure or would likely cause the animal’s death.

(b)  The dog or cat’s age shall not per se constitute medical unfitness.

(c)  As soon as the disqualifying medical condition ceases to exist, it shall be the duty of the person or entity having control of the dog or cat to immediately comply with all provisions of this act.

(d)  Possession of the certificate referred to in subsection (a) of this section shall constitute a defense to liability under the penalty provisions of this act.

Section 4.  Penalties.

Each unauthorized failure-to-microchip violation of this act shall be punishable by a fine as follows:

The first violation shall constitute an offense, punishable by a fine of $500.00.

The next two violations will constitute separate offenses for which an additional civil fine of $1,000.00 shall be imposed for each violation.

Immediately following the third offense, subsequent violations will be punishable as the lowest grade misdemeanor.  A $2,000.00 fine will also be imposed for each offense after the third.

Section 4.  Effective date.

This act shall be effective when it is approved according to law.