Cat Fight Over Pet ID

Posted by Sam Churchill on


When the Oregon Humane Society suddenly switched the kind of microchip used for pet identification last December, veterinarians balked, reports the Oregonian.

Many refused to buy scanners that could detect the new chips; others railed at the society on the phone and in letters. Now the humane society has returned to using the old chips — not because of veterinarians’ complaints, but because of a handful of lawsuits by companies that make the old chips.

“It’s a long, sad story,” said Sharon Harmon, the society’s executive director. “The topic gives me a headache.”

She describes the old chips — used for more than 20 years — as outdated technology. Yet many veterinarians celebrate their return.

“It’s great. Unfortunately, a bad decision was made about using the (new) chip, and the process wasn’t well-thought-out,” said Stephen Kochis, a Portland veterinarian and president of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association, which represents about 280 Portland-area veterinarians.

For two decades, animals nationwide have been implanted with 125-kilohertz microchips made by companies that include AVID and Home Again.

Last year, the Oregon Humane Society began buying and implanting the new 134-kilohertz microchip — also known as the International Standards Organization (ISO) chip — from a Canadian company called Pethealth.

Pethealth agreed to supply all Oregon animal shelters and some emergency veterinary clinics with free scanners for the new chips. Veterinarians, however, faced buying their own scanners for $170 to $250. And when unequipped veterinarians scanned pets with the new chip, the old scanner showed that no chip was present.

“Everybody needed to be on board,” said Kochis, who wrote a letter to the society in February saying pet owners were dismayed to learn veterinarians couldn’t detect their pet’s ISO chip. “If they aren’t all on board, it’s not going to fly.”

AVID, based in Norco, Calif., sued several companies who were using the new chip. The company settled a lawsuit against Pethealth Inc., and Pethealth stopped selling the 134-kilohertz chips. Pethealth still supplies the humane society with 125-kilohertz chips.

Portland-based Banfield, The Pet Hospital — a chain of pet clinics in 415 Petsmart stores across the country — stopped selling the new chips in May, after learning that shelters nationally needed more ISO-compatible scanners.

Later on, AVID sued Banfield and the company they were buying chips from. A judge issued a preliminary injunction, and Banfield has no immediate plans to resume its microchip program. The company, however, continues to support use of the ISO technology, said spokeswoman Dana Peterson.

AVID spokesman Dan Knox said his company acted only out of concern for animals. “It’s a consumer-protection issue,” he said. “The issue is that there simply isn’t that base of scanners” that detect the new chip.

The humane society continues to imbed the old-type microchips in every adopted dog, cat, rabbit and parrot.

And AVID’s Knox said his company is working with veterinarians in Oregon and elsewhere on a plan that would offer free chips to people whose animals now carry only the ISO chip.

In related news, Applied Digital Solutions, a maker of security products, on Tuesday said it exercised a warrant for 1 million shares of Digital Angel Corp., increasing its stake in the maker of pet monitoring devices to more than 23.4 million shares.

The news sent Applied Digital up 39 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $6.41 on the Nasdaq in morning trading, while Digital Angel shares rose 48 cents, or 7 percent, to $7.30 on the American Stock Exchange.

Applied Digital and Digital Angel say their VeriChip, the world s first implantable radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip for human use, has been cleared by the U.S. FDA for medical uses in the United States.

VeriChip is a subdermal RFID device that can be used in a variety of security, financial, emergency identification and other applications. About the size of a grain of rice, each VeriChip product contains a unique verification number that is captured by briefly passing a proprietary scanner over the VeriChip. The recommended location of the microchip is in the triceps area between the elbow and the shoulder of the right arm. The brief outpatient chipping procedure lasts just a few minutes and involves only local anesthetic followed by quick, painless insertion of the VeriChip.

The Digital Angel Corporation, which uses RF-ID to identify, locate and track cattle, has begun shipping its proprietary RFID electronic tags to Canadian farmers. Digital Angel is one of only four companies with Canadian Cattle Identification Approved (CCIA)-approved electronic RFID ear tags. The program was established to address the struggling Canadian beef industry after the 2003 Mad Cow scare that closed the border to live cattle movements.

Avery Dennison (the largest label maker) and Alien Technology plan to embed RF-ID into the Electronic Product Code (ePC). Then every pop can and every box of laundry detergent can be tracked and read – along with your Safeway card – inside the grocery cart, up to 1000 feet away.

More information on RF-ID is available at MIT’s Autoidcenter.org, EPCglobal, RFID.org, RF-ID Journal, buyrfid.com, ACSIS.com, RFID toolkit, rfidtalk.com and nocards.org. WiFi Planet overviews RF-ID technologies.

Related Daily Wireless articles include Mad Cow RF-ID, Handheld RF-ID Readers, Airport RF-ID, Tracking RF-ID, Digital Angel, RF-ID: From Soup to Nuts, Tracking Ship Movements – And You, Homeland Insecurity, Marathon RF-ID Tagging and Port Security with RF-ID, Intelligent Transportation, RF-ID Tracking from Space?, Monitoring Mount St Helens, Zigbee Gets Real, Showdown at .15, Hot Shoe, Slow Mesh Heats Up,Sensor Nets, Meshing at Intel, Oceanographic Wireless, Earthquake Monitoring, a Seattle to Portland Wireless Network Proposal, Berkeley Wireless Research Center, The Age of Steam and ZigBee’s Low Power Wireless.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, December 21st, 2004 at 1:31 am .

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