By ANDY SEVILLA
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).Email | Print