World of Microchips
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2003
Roger Clarke, BVSc, MRCVS, FACVSc, Registered Veterinary Specialist, Small Animal Surgery
Associate Professor, Bundoora Veterinary Clinic and Hospital
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

Dr Walt Ingwersen has resigned as Chairman of the WSAVA Microchip committee due to conflicting interests and Dr Marc Buchet now holds the Chair from Belgium. I have been asked to give this report on his behalf.

Since the adoption of the FDX-B ISO standard for microchips used in companion animals, many countries have adopted this standard officially. The WSAVA Microchip committee strongly recommends the adoption of the ISO standard to facilitate free movement and identification of companion animals throughout the world.

Some of the commercial distributors of microchips are still promoting the sale of the older FDX-A technology chips to countries that are not fully informed about microchips. They commonly use the excuse that multiscanners are not freely available or are too expensive. This is nonsense and it should be a requirement in all countries that have previously used non-ISO chips to have multi-chip scanners, as it is inevitable that companion animals bearing ISO- FDX-B chips will come into these countries as time goes by.

The UK and Europe are largely converted to ISO / FDX-B chips and the adoption of the Pet Passport to allow free movement of animals into and out of the UK has hastened this process.

Marc Buchet reports that EuropetnetTM, a Web based company that carries the details of many companion animal microchip registries is still growing.

EuroPetNET has now registered 2 new members: Estonia and Lithuania and has interest from Finland. EuroPetNet has recently had a presentation on Euronews (a European program seen everywhere in Europe) and has received many requests from owners who wanted to have their pets registered in our database. Since EuroPetNet only acts as a search engine for locally based Databases, Dr Buchet will continue to try to encourage new nationally based Databases to become members. Dr Buchet will ask Portuguese officials to join Europetnet in Lisbon FECAVA meeting in May this year.

Dr Nicola Neumann the representative for Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society (VICAS) from Eire reports that Dog Licences are compulsory in Ireland, however microchipping is not compulsory and neither is any kind of pet identification. Given that there are an estimated 25,000 healthy stray dogs euthanased in Ireland by the Local Authorities each year and none of these are traceable to an owner, Ireland clearly needs to microchip more dogs. There are no reliable statistics on cats.

The National Stray Dog Forum in Ireland, which includes VICAS, has urged the Department Of Environment, which oversees the Stray Dog Act and the issue of licences, to make microchipping compulsory. At this time, they are not interested.

ISO standard Microchips are available and used by VICAS members in Ireland. In the last two years there has been a significant increase in the number of microchips implanted. The main database in Ireland is ANIMARK. Currently there are 13,348 pets (mostly dogs) registered on this database.

In South Africa, Dr Lawson Cairns, WSAVA representative for South Africa, gave the following report. IdentipetTM the holder of the main portion of the market in RSA sell a 10 digit FDX-A chip similar to the ones used in USA. They ran a fairly efficient, but low key programme on marketing their product which included donation of old 10 digit readers to the local SPCA's etc. This encourages the persistence of this technology. Little was ever done to promote the use of microchips by IdentipetTM, although they looked after the users quite well. IdentipetTM were approached some time ago to see if they would change to the use of 15 digit ISO FDX-B chips and multi-scanners and we were told that they did not see the point. Despite these discussions they have continued to use 10 digit FDX-A chips and scanners. Because of their attitude and the lack of a distributor of ISO Standard chips, I found it very difficult to promote the use of "OLD" technology and to go for any form of campaign to encourage this form of microchip technology.

VirbacTM recently came to our rescue with 15 digit FDX-B ISO Standard chips and ISO scanners, which they have launched to our profession. The only flaw in their current marketing is that the scanners do not read the HDX ear tags which appears to preclude them from being fully ISO compliant, but as we are not using ear tags in companion animals this does not cause a lot of concern.

VirbacTM have indicated a desire to pass on their database to a neutral body with a payment to maintain it. I have been trying to encourage our SOUTH AFRICAN VETERINARY ASSOCIATION to take on this task, but am meeting with a degree of resistance which I am battling to understand. This is the present state of the South African micro-chip market which in a sufficient state of flux so that reliable figures are hard to come by. Hopefully by the time of the Bangkok congress we may have some figures.

In Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has had a firm policy that only ISO Standard chips should be implanted by members from Dec 31st 2001. We also require commercial microchip databases to operate according to an agreed protocol that allows full communication between the various databases. The Australian modification of the ISO Standard, adopted by Standards Australia, requires multi-frequency scanners allowing full backwards compatibility with animals implanted with earlier FDX-A type chips. In our largest State NSW, microchip identification is now compulsory and in some of the other states, the governments are moving towards making regulations specifying that only ISO standard chips may be implanted in Companion animals in the future.

Australia imports a significant number of dogs and we still occasionally get dogs, imported that are implanted with prefix "999" test FDX B microchips. The latest incident involved four dogs recently imported from the UK. The National Australian quarantine regulations, set by the Commonwealth Government, merely state that the dogs must bear a scannable microchip of any type; hence the dogs were allowed into Australia. The AVA policy and that of the State governments is that test series bearing the 999 code are not acceptable for commercial use as these numbers cannot be guaranteed to be unique numbers. The Australian Standard specifies that all FDX-B (ISO) microchips used in Australia must bear a manufacturer prefix endorsed by ICAR and the 999 series is a test series not intended for commercial use. The NSW State Government regulations / legislation makes the following specific statement in regard to these test chips and policy this is endorsed by the Australian Veterinary Association.

Companion Animals Regulation 1999

Guidelines For Authorised Identifiers Guideline 2000/ID2

Issued by: Director General, NSW Department of Local Government June 2000

2.4 Implantation

 2.4.1 The authorised identifier must ensure that the microchip implanted in a companion animal for the purposes of section 8 of the Act is an approved microchip.

 2.4.2 The Director General has ordered that approved microchips are those which comply with ISO:11784 and ISO:11785, and include a manufacturer code granted by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR). Approved microchips contain 15 digits, no letters, and start with a '9'. Chips that start with the code '999' are ISO test chips and should not be inserted in to companion animals."

Important note re country codes versus manufacturer codes

Some chip manufacturers continue to promote false information that a country code must be used. However, the truth is that unless a country has one national database registry only and the country officially specifies in law or regulation that a country code should be used, a manufacturer code must be used. ISO microchips display a 15-digit number, with the first three digits being reserved for either the official manufacturer code or a country code. If a country code is specified, then the country concerned should also specify another place for a manufacturer code, as the ISO Standard only restricts the first three displayed digits for this purpose. If this is not done then there is no legal barrier to two companies making chips with the same 15 digit number. If all countries specified a manufacturer code there would be no problem with duplicate numbers. Each manufacturer would issue a different set of chips to each country, but within that manufacturer's production there could be no duplication, as each set would have the manufacturer code. The manufacturer code also makes it possible to trace the origin of the chip since these codes are issued by ICAR under the auspices of ISO in Geneva. Unfortunately I do not have any more reports from other countries at this time.

Speaker Information
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Roger Clarke, BVSc, MRCVS, FACVSc
Registered Veterinary Specialist, Small Animal Surgery
Associate Professor, Bundoora Veterinary Clinic and Hospital
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

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