New Zealand - microchips get green light
Its chips with everything down under writes Nick Mays
THE NEW ZEALAND Parliament has overwhelmingly backed compulsory ID implants in dogs under law changes aimed at curbing dog attacks. It means all puppies registered for the first time from 2006 will have to be implanted with microchips to enable universal identification.
The law changes also require "dangerous, menacing or roaming dogs" to have implants. A select committee dumped the controversial measure for universal implants, but Local Government Minister Chris Carter gave notice last week that the Government would press ahead with it.
Only the Opposition National and ACT parties opposed the measure when it was debated by Parliament last week. The legislation is likely to be passed with broad support this week.
Several New Zealand newspapers derided the move, which Mr Carter remains convinced will help his dog laws be enforced.
Ally Crabb, a Bichon Frise breeder from Timaru could not envisage her Bichon biting anything bigger than a dog biscuit yet she may soon have to pay for a microchip to be implanted in the animal so she can be traced if he mauls someone.
The silliness of the concept has not escaped her, unlike those formulating the legislation. Miss Crabb, a breeder Bichons for 20 years and a New Zealand Kennel Club judge, described the legislation as ridiculous.
"It's pathetic to inject a microchip into a small dog that is no way dangerous."
NZ Kennel Club members were most concerned that the microchips were able to move.
Although they were usually injected via syringe into the dog's shoulder, they had been known to migrate and travel around the dogs body.
Miss Crabb said this was dangerous, adding that tattooing was still the preferred method of tagging by breeders, who keep their own register.
She said the legislation failed to target the dogs most likely to attack.
"As a respectable breeder I would have my dogs microchipped. It's the people who breed dogs to fight that won't have them microchipped."
Miss Crabb said the procedure was quite uncomfortable for dogs. Meanwhile, the farmers union in New Zealand, Federated Farmers has declared the microchipping a massive waste of money which will not reduce dog attacks.
National vice-president Charlie Pedersen said it was a waste of what he calculated would be about $25 million a year, and placed further financial burden on farmers.
"This is another example of the Government placing another cost on farmers who rely on a number of highly trained dogs to help run their farms," he said. "Compulsory microchipping will not reduce dog attacks and will do nothing to aid the identification of the owners of dogs that attack. Establishing ownership of dogs that have attacked people has not been the problem.
"Microchipping will simply annoy responsible owners, be ignored by the rest and further increase the number of unregistered dogs."
Mr Pedersen said the Government's claims that microchipping would cost between $12 and $20 per dog and that running the national data base will cost 53c per dog per year, were incorrect.
"The reality is that microchipping costs between $50 and $110 per dog and the database is more likely to cost $25 per dog per year - in line with the cost of administrating the motor vehicle register," he said.
"This does not take into account the cost of scanners (and) the estimated $1 million needed to establish the database - which is likely to blow out to several times given past experience with national databases."
The people the Government was targeting were those who failed to register their animals and forcing them to pay an extra $50 to $110 per dog would not encourage them to comply.