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January 10th, 2009
Microchip tag law stirs city pet owners

Associate Editor

San Marcos residents expressed concerns Thursday night about a new animal control ordinance that will require them to microchip their dogs and cats.

Under the ordinance, which goes into effect on April 1, pet owners will be required to microchip their animals in the registration process, rather than have them tagged. The new registration method would require each animal to be registered only once, rather than on an annual basis under the old tagging system.

Convenience aside, some residents at a city-sponsored orientation concerning the new ordinance Thursday said implanting microchips could produce sad outcomes for their animals.

“If a microchip goes to the head, it can definitely cause problems,” San Marcos resident Michael Starbuck said. “Cell phones are bad for us. Now, imagine a constant signal from a microchip by your head. It’s even worse, and could probably result in cancer.”

The Washington Post reports that a series of veterinary and toxicology studies found chip implants had “induced” malignant tumors in lab mice and rats in the mid-1990s. The Post also reports studies published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006 found that lab mice and rats sometimes develop malignant tumors after being injected with microchips. The tumors were usually found surrounding the implant.

But San Marcos Animal Services Manager Bert Stratemann said tumors caused by microchips are highly unlikely in dogs and cats. Furthermore, he said, the chips are useful for re-uniting stray pets with their owners.

“This is a really safe way to identify your animal and get it back to you,” he said.

The ordinance requires any “person(s) owning, keeping, harboring or having custody of a dog or cat over the age of four months within the City of San Marcos” to microchip their animals. Stratemann said fees have yet to be set for animal registration, adding that enforcement may be difficult. He said the city’s animal shelter provides microchips for $20.

“This is not a GPS (global positions system) tracking device,” Stratemann said. “We cannot tell where your animal is at all times. This does, however, facilitate the animal’s return should our animal control officer come across it.”

Mark Brinkley, the city’s assistant manager of community services, said the shelter took in approximately 6,000 animals in 2008. Almost half were euthanized. Brinkley said microchips would result in less euthanasia.

“Ninety percent of microchipped animals get returned to their owners,” Stratemann said. “We try to get them back home within a few days, if not immediately.”

The new ordinance provides for several alterations on local rules, varying from rabies vaccinations, the microchip program, restrictions on tethering, regulations on feral cat colonies, and a ban against selling or giving away animals on public property, private parking lots and flea markets.

“Our main objective is to keep the animals safe,” Brinkley said.

Said Stratemann, “We’ve had a real good response from the community on this new ordinance. In fact, many individuals feel we need to go further.”

Thursday’s public session at City Hall was the first of three intended to inform citizens about the new ordinance. The next two are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26, from 7-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1-2:30 p.m. at City Hall in the city council chambers. A copy of the ordinance is posted on the city’s website under the Animal Services Department. Animal Control can be reached at (512) 805-2655.

Rudy, the papillon on the left, is microchipped, while Gabi, the poodle on the right, is not. (photo by Andy Sevilla)

San Marcos Animal Shelter Supervisor Kara Montiel (left), Animal Services Manager Bert Stratemann (center, behind podium) and Animal Control Supervisor C.J. Cooley (right) explained the new animal control ordinance to San Marcos residents at a Thursday night meeting. (photo by Andy Sevilla).

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23 thoughts on “Microchip tag law stirs city pet owners

  1. Why put our pets at risk!? Maybe it is a far stretch, or maybe it isnt, to say our pets will get tumors from micropchips, but what if? Is a tag with the owner’s name and number not enough? Im sure the intentions behind a microchip are good, but what’s next… microchip all San Marcos residents too (for some “good” intentioned reason)

  2. Interesting how I had not heard about this specificity before now. I went to the City Council meeting when this ordinance was discussed, and nobody raised any issue with the microchip, perhaps the public was unaware of all the stiulations, and maybe this ordinance was rushed through the Council. Seems like we really can’t do much now about it now.
    Side note, the picture of the dogs – Rudy and Gabi – they both look happy, safe and well taken cared of, one of them has a microchip and the other doesnt. I do notice however that both have tags. If either ever got lost, Im sure they would get back home without the need for a microchip. We all just need to be responsible “parents” and not put our pets through the POSSIBILITY of attaining tumors.

  3. Anyone wonder where all of this first came from? It seems odd that one day we’re fine and the next day a whole host of sweeping changes come down that no one seemed to have a problem with before, forcing us to implant microchips, limit our pet ownership, and so on and so on and so on. We’ve had rights taken away during this proceeding and people are just now finding out about it. Why is it a top priority right now for the city to take a huge interest in stripping away our pet ownership rights? They can’t even get their own act together, and now they’re pushing further regulations on us. Very disapppointing.

  4. What’s next, according to the news, is that the City of San Marcos will try to impose on us, a law that says we can own only 4 pets max. This, and micro-chipping are a HUGE invasion of personal rights and liberties, as well as unenforcable. There are already laws in place to take care of animal problems. Noise enforcement laws and cruelty laws that can be enforced on omeone that has too many pets to take care of properly…forcing the public to inject their pets with permanant, man-made chips that are known to cause cancer in test animals goes way beyond the boundries of what a city council should be allowed to dictate. And I hope the press will be there when the dog police show up to take away one of my dear 76 year old friend’s French poodles because she has one too many.

  5. Micro chip implants for pets, good lord what next? I want a choice in what I do. I don’t want big brother. I want my city government to focus on fire protection, clean water, regular garbage collection, sane law enforcement and reasonably priced electricity and maintain good roads and sidewalks and playgrounds for the kids in all parts of town(not just where I live) a good library and keeping their fingers out of our lives otherwise. In other words, let me make the choice about what I want to do with my animals.

  6. Perhaps we should consider a microchip for Charles O’dell so that the County “Judge” knows where he is at all times, and he can handle all of her dissenters. Anyway, this ordinance is very ridiculous. Our animals are doing fine, perhaps city council’s efforts should be put forth on providing a no-kill shelter.

  7. Check the rest of the laws. If you have a litter of puppies, you can no longer sell them in a parking lot even if you have the consent of the owner or are the owner yourself.

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  9. Does it forbid dogs in the back of pick-ups? I seem to recall an attempt to pass such an ordinance some years back…

  10. Utterly ridiculous, unenforceable, insane, big brother, just a few thoughts that come to mind. Who the hell do these people think they are, I say vote em out in 2010.

  11. lila- you don’t live here, but recently you have an opinion about virtually every San Marcos issue that comes up- get a job, mind your own business.

  12. Golly, meanpeoplesuck. What could be meaner than hiding under an assumed name to flame someone who is woman enough to post under her real name? And since, as your fake name avows, “Mean people suck,” what does that say about you?

  13. LOL. I wonder where “meanpeoplesuck” lives? Guess we will never know…
    And I maintain my right to an opinion about what goes on in San Marcos or anywhere else. After all, Charles O’Dell does, and Susan Cook, and Peter Stern, and….

  14. FYI “mean people suck” is the catch phrase for the stoner band Phish, a Greatful Dead wanna be band.

  15. Uh Oh. I guess I’m really showing my age. Bummer. Oops. Did it again. So, does this mean the whole band is blogging? Or is someone just stealing their name because they think it’s cool. Oops, did it again….Okay. Let’s just admit I’m over the hill.

  16. HomeAgain micro-ships can be found on commercial websites for $9.95, and are much cheaper wholesale. There is also a fee to the pet owner, via HomeAgain, if you want to register the mirco-chip number. The city charges $20, my vet charges $40, and the vet rep at the council meetings says $20. They purchase a scanner once, and pay the labor for the 2 minutes that it takes to put the chip in, and you’ve got about $15 + profit. That’s $15,000 for only 1000 animals. And there must be a hundred thousand pets in the San Marcos area. There is also a threat of a $500 fine if you don’t do it. That means if you lose your pet and it winds up at the pound and they can’t find the chip, you could be looking at $500 to pick up the pet. At that rate, Toto will probably be done for.

  17. What would you do if you had to take the microchip ? Let’s look at the average ht. & wt of a man,say he’s 5″11 ,180 lbs.
    Next,the chip about the size of a grain of rice,right ?

    Now the pet. What would you say if the mircochip was the size if a BIC Lighter ? What would you feel if that Bic Lighter was flicked on inside of your body ? Get the picture ? It’s down right inhumane.What about those poor fleas ? Are they next ?

    What would a doctor say about this matter? Dr Katherine Albrechta Co-Author of six books and videos including the award-winning bestseller “Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID” and “The Spychips Threat: says it’s Encroachment on Freedom, Animal and Food Tracking.

  18. At this point I’d welcome chips for the owners of pets. Preferably ones that administer high doses of tranquilizers and anti-psychotic drugs.

    Can we move on please? There are more important issues out there.

  19. Stories like this tend to progress until their ‘natural’ conclusion. So either April 1st passes with no incident, and noone brings this up again (unlikely), or the city council changes the ordinance back to the voluntary system (more likely).

  20. causes cancer
    sue the city if they start enforcing this
    first the cattle
    then the pets
    then the children
    then YOU

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