This Martian Life: A Column
By SEAN WARDWELL
I don’t own a pet, so I can’t say I have any emotional stake in the ongoing debate on whether or not San Marcos residents need to lowjack Fido. However, I am amused that so many people do.
Among other measures in a new animal control ordinance going into effect on April 1, the San Marcos city government is requiring that pets be registered by microchip. People feeling as they do about their pets, many are unhappy about the requirement.
The real issue is pretty innocuous. Pets that get lost or run away should be reunited with their owners (or staff if a cat is involved). Strays are a problem, and until a no-kill shelter is established, this isn’t a bad solution. One small chip could reunite a very distraught and confused creature and the pet that depends on him for food and shelter.
Yet, as is often the case, a misguided sense of liberty is getting in the way. The very moment this comes up in any way, the tinfoil hat brigade presents itself in force.
Let’s make this really easy for everyone. Putting an ID chip on the family pet does not mean we will all be speaking Newspeak, loving Big Brother or welcoming the prince of darkness. It just means your pet can be found, and that’s only if someone scans the chip. It’s almost as if there’s this fear that somewhere in the bowels of city hall, someone will always know what your pet is doing!
The other issue is health. Lord knows, we love our pets in San Marcos. Come to think of it, our pets were very popular with out-of-towners last year too.
Nevertheless, it’s absurd to think that a company would intentionally market chips that cause tumors in small animals. I have no problem whatsoever believing they would do that to humans. But, come on, even these people have a heart.
If sarcasm isn’t enough to sway you, how’s this? A position statement by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association says:
“While it is not possible to claim that the reaction to an implanted transponder in a companion animal will NEVER induce tumor formation, the Committee is unanimously of the opinion that the benefits available to implanted animals far outweigh any possible risk to the health of the animal concerned…
“There is no evidence to suggest that companion animals implanted with a microchip are at a higher risk for developing a tumor. The mice used in the studies where an association between a microchip and development of a tumor occurred were genetically predisposed to cancer and do not represent the genetic diversity we see in our dogs and cats”
I have to admit that I’m not intimately familiar with all the bona fides of the WSAVA, but their title is quite impressive, so I’m inclined to believe them (and because of all that science stuff, too).
The city does have a stake in this, as well. Animal Control costs money. Shelters cost money. We don’t have a no-kill shelter. Measure the minor expense of a radio tag on your pet with the expense we as taxpayers bear. This is a real problem for the city.
Also, and not for nothing here, but one of the reasons this is a problem, and requires a high-tech solution, is because some people didn’t find the time for the low-tech libertarian way of keeping their pet safe (collars, tags, fences, etc.), and settled for the low-tech libertarian way of keeping their pet out of sight, unless needed (yard chains, no fence, no collar, no tags).
So, all this personal liberty talk rings hollow to me, as does the faux panic regarding a radio tag. It means you and your pet will be reunited if it does end up in a shelter, or if an animal control officer scans it.
Before Christmas, I spent some time with an acquaintance from Australia. He’s been here a while and is always amazed over what issues we get up in arms about and what we just accept. We seem to accept poverty, homelessness, unemployment and mediocre local job opportunities as de rigueur. When government tells someone what she can and can’t do with her pets, well… them’s fightin’ words.
It seemed silly to him, and I can’t argue.Email | Print