Sassie Is Left Paralyzed as the Result of Yet Still Another Horribly Botched Attempt to Implant a Thoroughly Worthless and Pernicious Microchip Between Her Shoulders
|Eight Stitches Were Required to Patch Up Sassie's Injured Neck|
"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing. She made two attempts to chip Sassie."
-- Kristina Hogan
Much like an habitual drunkard who cannot stay off the bottle, modern man is seemingly unable to say no to technology. A rather poignant example of that herd mentality is to be found in the public's mindless acceptance of implanted microchips as the preferred method of identifying their cats and dogs.
They are not totally to blame, however, in that most animal rescue groups, such as Cats Protection in Haywards Heath, Sussex, and the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London, have been busily ramming these pernicious devices down their gullets for years. The practice has become so widespread that it not only is well on the way toward supplanting the use of both collars and tattoos but, more importantly, it has been endorsed by just about all shelters and veterinary groups in addition to numerous municipal authorities as well. Perhaps most egregious of all, the totalitarians who call the shots in the European Union mandated in 2011 that all cats and dogs traveling between its member states must be fitted with these devices.
Although there are numerous reasons why this trend is such an ominous development in the field of animal welfare, none so readily stands out as the appalling level of incompetence that exists within the ranks of those professionals that are charged with implanting them. Specifically, although surgically inserting these miniature identification devices between the shoulder blades is a straightforward, uncomplicated procedure, it is shocking just how many veterinarians are unable to do so without either crippling or killing cats.
In addition to general incompetence, an overarching desire to make as much moola as possible within the shortest period of time and with the least expenditure of energy coupled with a lackadaisical attitude toward the well-being of their patients are sans doute contributing factors. Not surprisingly, the petit fait that implanting a microchip is an invasive procedure and as such requires not only competence but diligence as well often gets lost in such a perverse business model.
That is perhaps even more so the case with those charities and governmental authorities that from time to time offer free-of-charge microchipping services to the public. A good case in point was the totally inexcusable pain, suffering, and lasting injuries inflicted upon a pretty three-year-old calico female named Sassie from Consett after her owner took her to such an event sponsored by the Durham County Council in early 2014.
The details are a bit sketchy, but the unidentified individual doing the chipping so botched the procedure that she recklessly plunged the needle containing the device into Sassie's spine as opposed to inserting it between her shoulder blades. As a consequence, she was left paralyzed.
"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing," Sassie's thirty-one-year-old owner, Kristina Hogan, afterwards averred to The Chronicle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on February 18, 2014. (See "Consett Cat Sassie Paralyzed in Microchipping Bungle.") "She made two attempts to chip Sassie."
Although it has not been disclosed if the woman was actually a licensed veterinarian or merely an assistant of some sort, she additionally came within a hairbreadth of nearly killing Sassie. "On the second, she rammed the needle so hard into her she injected the chip between the first and second vertebrae in the neck, paralyzing her," Hogan continued. "If it had gone any further up it would have hit her in the brain, and if it had gone any deeper it would have perforated her spinal cord."
As a consequence, Hogan was forced to rush Sassie to Croft Vet Hospital in Cramlington, thirty-seven kilometers north of Consett in Northumberland, where the microchip first had to be located with computer scans and then surgically removed at a staggering cost of £3,000. That was nothing, however, when compared to the damage that had been inflicted upon Sassie.
To begin with, eight stitches were required just to sew up her severely damaged neck. Following that, she not only was forced to wear an Elizabethan collar until the incision healed but to be caged for six weeks while she convalesced. Worst of all, the procedure robbed her of the ability to run and jump.
"She just used to really enjoy being out -- if you opened the door to call her she wouldn't come and nine times out of ten you'd have to tempt her in with a bit of ham," Hogan confided to The Chronicle. "Now she'll never be able to go outside again because she's too slow to get away from predators."
|Sassie Was Confined to an Elizabethan Collar for Weeks|
The full extent of her injuries was not expected to have been determined until after the cone and stitches were removed but since no additional articles concerning her have appeared in the English press, it is impossible to speculate on how she is progressing. All may not have been lost, however, in that some cats who have suffered similar fates eventually have regained some of their mobility.
For example, Simon Platt of the Animal Health Trust's Small Animal Centre in Newmarket, Suffolk, wrote in an article entitled "Spinal Cord Injury Resulting from Incorrect Microchip Placement in a Cat" that an unidentified two-year-old neutered male had in time regained the use of his front appendages even though a certain degree of paralysis persisted in his left leg. (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 9, issue 2, April 2, 2007, pages 157-160.)
For its part, the Durham County Council has attempted to atone for what was done to Sassie. "We are extremely upset and sorry that this happened," Ian Hoult, its neighborhood protection manager, told The Chronicle. "We immediately apologized and have paid for all necessary veterinary care to ensure the animal's future well-being."
In addition to leaving Sassie paralyzed, the bungled microchipping also has had a traumatic effect upon Hogan's three young children. "It's affected the children as well -- the kids were in tears," she told The Chronicle. "They can't go and give her a cuddle and pick her up because they're so worried they're going to hurt her spine."
Besides muscling microchips into cats' spines, slap-happy veterinarians also make a disturbing habit of recklessly implanting them at vaccination sites which in turn has led to the onset of cancer. "Veterinarians should be aware that because inflammation may dispose felines to tumor formation, separation and observation of vaccination and implantation sites are indicated," Meighan K. Daly of the University of Georgia at Athens wrote a few years back in an article entitled "Fibrosarcoma Adjacent to the Site of Microchip Implantation in a Cat." (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 10, issue 2, April 2008, pages 202-205.)
Veterinary malpractice aside, there is a growing body of evidence that the chips themselves are cancerous. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")
Although the toxicity of these devices coupled with the tendency of veterinarians to implant them at vaccination sites and on top of spines constitute the principal concerns, they are by no means the only ones. First of all, not all of them operate on the same frequency and as a result multiple scanners are needed in order to read them and that in the past has led to deadly consequences.
For instance on April 21, 2004, Lisa Massey's eight-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier, Haddon, was killed by an animal shelter in Stafford, Virginia, all because staffers were using the wrong scanner and thus were unable to decipher his implanted microchip. (See the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, July 1, 2004, "Pet's Death Rekindles Electronic ID Debate.")
Secondly, microchips have a tendency to move around inside cats and dogs and that sometimes makes it difficult to locate them. Thirdly, like all such devices they sometimes simply malfunction. (See the Daily Mail, April 17, 2007, "Impounded: Family Forced to Leave Their (sic) Dog in France Because Officials Couldn't Scan Its ID Chip.")
Fourthly, it is almost superfluous to point out but if owners neglect to keep their contact information up-to-date in the databases that the chips are linked up to there virtually is not any way that they can be reached by those shelters and veterinarians that even so much as bother to scan the animals that they impound and treat. This is a huge problem for cats that are bandied about between multiple owners. (See The Australian of Sydney, articles dated March 20, 2007 and March 21, 2007 and entitled, respectively, "Three-Thousand-Dollar United States Cat Handed to RSPCA" and "Valuable Stray Cat Reunited with United States (sic) Owner," plus Cat Defender posts of August 26, 2015 and July 25, 2014 entitled, respectively, "A Myriad of Cruel and Unforgivable Abandonments, a Chinese Puzzle, and Finally the Handing Down and Carrying Out of a Death Sentence Spell the End for Long-Suffering and Peripatetic Tigger" and "Poussey Overcomes a Surprise Boat Ride to Dover, a Stint on Death Row, and Being Bandied About Like the Flying Dutchman in Order to Finally Make It Home to La Havre.")
Only once in a blue moon can a shelter be counted upon to go out of its way in order to reunite a lost cat with an owner who has failed to maintain a current address in a microchip database. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2010 entitled "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years.")
|Sassie and Kristina Hogan Are Persevering|
Trumping all of those concerns is the often overlooked reality that implanted microchips offer cats and dogs absolutely no protection whatsoever against motorists, human and animal predators, poisoners, the elements, and thieves. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")
Although proponents may trumpet their efficacy in reuniting lost cats with their owners, the statistics that they cite in support of their reasoning are misleading. That is because for every successful reunion there doubtlessly must be hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of chipped cats that are never found.
One reason for that is the limited availability of scanners. Therefore, individuals who rescue cats from the streets and fields do not have any means of checking for implanted identification devices.
A few of them do, belatedly, ask their veterinarians to scan them but that is usually years after they have been rescued. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")
Although collars and tattoos also have their limitations and health risks, they at least are visible to the naked eye and that convenience alone sometimes increases the odds that animals outfitted with them will be returned to their owners. They also have the advantage of being free of both exorbitant veterinary and database maintenance fees which, by the way, is another reason why practitioners and animal rescue groups do not want anything to do with them.
Last but not least, microchips lull owners into a false sense of security that often serves to encourage them to become negligent in the care of their cats. That in turn reinforces the popular, albeit totally spurious, stereotype that cats are self-sufficient loners who are quite capable of taking care of themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")
On a much broader level, all monitoring technology, whether it be microchips, radio collars, cameras, or whatever, has been developed and deployed for reasons that are inimical to the health and well-being of the animal kingdom. To put the matter succinctly, the power to monitor and observe is equivalent of that to know and that in turn equates to the power to control which, ultimately, entails the ability to denature and kill. (See Cat Defender posts of June 11, 2007, May 4, 2006, and February 29, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Katzen-Kameras Are Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Represent an Assault Upon Cats' Liberties and Privacy," "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals," and "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")
As far as it is known, no statistics are kept as to the number of animals that are killed each year, either intentionally or accidentally, as the result of tagging initiatives that are carried out by wildlife biologists and other governmental officials but the total surely must be astronomical. (See Cat Defender posts of April 17, 2006 and May 21, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him" and "Macho B., America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona.")
At this very moment the USDA's diabolical Wildlife Services and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are using radio-collared "Judas" wolves in order to track down and flush out other wolves from their dens. Sharpshooters then gun down the helpless animals from helicopters and airplanes.
The wolves attempt to flee but it is totally impossible for them, especially those that previously have been tagged, to escape. (See the Center for Biological Diversity's press release of March 29, 2016, "Judas Wolves -- Wildlife Services' Sick Killing Strategy.")
Considering the gargantuan lengths that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has gone to in order to eradicate cats on San Nicolas, in the Florida Keys, and elsewhere, the species one day could find itself being treated every bit as cruelly as wolves. It accordingly is not a good idea for those who care about them to provide governmental agencies, rescue groups, and veterinarians with either the electronic means or the data that will make it easier for them to carry out their hideous crimes.
A far more prudent alternative would be to rely upon close observation and conventional means in order to keep track of cats. Such a strategy has, admittedly, its limitations but a reliance upon technology and those groups and entities that champion it is definitely not the answer.
Photos: The Chronicle.