"I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted."
-- John D. MacDonald, The Quick Red Fox (1964)
Millions of cats have been tagged with microchips during the past twenty years in spite of the fact that researchers have known since the mid-1990s that these implants sometimes cause cancer in dogs as well as in laboratory rats and mice. Although the evidence as far as cats are concerned is anecdotal, the issue finally is sub juris
after Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident Andrea Rutherford filed suit on October 4th against chipmaker Digital Angel of St. Paul, Minnesota, and its distributor, Merck Sharp and Dohme of West Trenton, New Jersey.
In her complaint, which in all likelihood will be heard sometime next year by a jury in Cambridge District Court, Rutherford is seeking compensatory damages plus interest for a cancerous growth that her cat, Bulkin, developed after having been fitted with one of the superfluous identification devices. (See photo of her above.)
Bulkin's life-threatening ordeal began on February 2, 2005 when Rutherford paid Paul Constantino of South Bay Veterinary Group in Boston to implant a HomeAgain® microchip in her. On October 17, 2007, an unidentified veterinarian from the same surgery removed a lump from Bulkin that had grown up around the chip.
The following day Antec Diagnostics of Lake Success on Long Island concluded from a biopsy that the lump was a fibrosarcoma of moderate malignancy. Bulkin promptly was referred to the New England Veterinary Oncology Group in Waltham where oncologist Michelle L. Silver concluded that her cancer "likely" was induced by the chip.
Bulkin subsequently was treated with both chemotherapy and radiation and as far as it could be determined is still alive today. Exactly what shape she is in and her prognosis are not spelled out in court documents. The truly frightening thing about cancer is that it can reoccur and metastasize without any warming.
It is anybody's guess as to how many cats have contracted cancer as the result of these implants but the web site chipmenot.com is reporting that an eight-year-old cat named Halo from Alaska developed cancer at the site where she was microchipped. (See photo of her below.)
To date, she has been forced to undergo three traumatic operations in order to remove lumps, two of which were cancerous, that have materialized at the site. Her current condition is unknown.
The implantation of microchips at vaccination sites also have been known to cause cancer. That was the sad fate that befell an unidentified fourteen-year-old spayed American Shorthair.
"Veterinarians should be aware that because inflammation may predispose felines to tumor formation, separation and observation of vaccination and implantation sites are indicated," Meighan K. Daly and her colleagues at the University of Georgia in Athens wrote in an article entitled "Fibrosarcoma Adjacent to the Site of Microchip Implantation in a Cat"
that appeared in the online edition of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
on March 3, 2008 and in print in volume 10, issue 2, April 2008, pages 202-205.
Some veterinarians are such blooming idiots that they even implant microchips right on top of cats' spinal cords. Not unexpectedly, such slipshod work leads of paralysis which is exactly what happened to an unidentified two-year-old neutered male cat that Simon Platt and his colleagues at the Centre for Small Animals in Newmarket, Suffolk, detailed in an article entitled "Spinal Cord Injury Resulting from Incorrect Microchip Placement in a Cat"
that appeared in the online edition of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
on September 18, 2006 and in print in volume 9, issue 2, April 2007, pages 157-160.
The chip subsequently was surgically removed and the cat eventually regained the use of his legs although a degree of paralysis persisted in his left front appendage. Other than that no additional information about his condition has been made public.
In addition to sarcomas that develop at the sites of chip implants and those that foolishly are implanted on spinal cords and at vaccination sites, the chips themselves very well could be toxic. A certain amount of risk accompanies all invasive procedures and it generally is not a good idea to either implant, inject, or swallow foreign objects except as a last resort in order to save a life.
The fact that only a handful of cat and dog owners have come forward to report cancers should not be taken as evidence of the relative safety of implanted microchips. That very likely can be attributed to either the reluctance or inability of pet owners to foot the bill for an animal that has developed cancer. The same is true of seeking legal redress which is not only expensive and time consuming but fraught with all sorts of uncertainties to boot.
For example, when an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy led to the destruction and disposal of 4.4 million cows in Angleterre
during the 1990s, only approximately one-hundred or so cat owners were willing to pay for necropsies which confirmed that their companions had died from the variant Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy (FSE).
The number that died from eating pet food manufactured with tainted beef obviously was much higher but the actual feline fatality rate never will be known because of underreporting. (See BBC, October 2, 1998, "Deaths of Creutzfeldt Jakob's Disease Man and Cat Linked.")
On the other hand, the evidence that implanted microchips can cause cancer in dogs as well as in laboratory rats and mice is considerably stronger. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2007 entitled "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs.")
"We're about to find out whether this is a big problem or a small problem," Rutherford's attorney, Steven M. Wise of Coral Springs, Florida, told the Boston Globe
on October 13th. (See "Suit Alleges Tracking Chip Caused Cancer in Cat.")
On that point he obviously is talking through his hat in that even a ruling in favor of his client is hardly gong to settle this controversy. That would require a class-action lawsuit involving at least hundreds of aggrieved pet owners. If successful, such action might ultimately force the FDA to order the devices off the market.
Even more alarming, Rutherford's suit in no way tackles the glaring culpability of Constantino and South Bay Veterinary Group. A recent visit to the surgery's web site revealed not only that Constantino is still employed there but that it is continuing to enthusiastically hawk these cancer-causing devices to a gullible public.
"The HomeAgain® chip is the newest way to make sure your pet is well identified," a February 2, 2009 article declares. (See "HomeAgain® Microchip.")
Quite obviously this surgery is every bit as shameless as it is irresponsible and greedy.
Just because these devices are on the market does not necessarily mean that all veterinarians are forced to prescribe them. Unfortunately, most members of the profession are so greedy and incompetent that they are willing to go along with almost anything so long as it puts shekels
in their pockets. (See Cat Defender posts of June 17, 2010 and July 2, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues" and "Lexi Was By No Means the First Cat to Be Lost by Woosehill Vets Any More Than Angel Was Their Last Victim of a Botched Sterilization.")
Meanwhile, when it comes to doing something truly worthwhile, such as saving the lives of impecunious kittens and cats, they most often categorically refuse to lift so much as a finger. (See Cat Defender post of July 16, 2010 entitled "Tossed Out the Window of a Car Like an Empty Beer Can, Injured Chattanooga Kitten Is Left to Die after at Least Two Veterinarians Refused to Treat It.")
The profession's ignoble penchant for putting shekel
accumulation ahead of both saving lives and treating legitimate illnesses is demonstrated time and time again by its willingness to kill perfectly healthy animals under the guise of euthanasia and to administer all sorts of unnecessary inoculations. Back in 2005, for example, the Chicago law firm of Childress, Duffy, and Goldblatt announced its intention to bring a class-action lawsuit against the profession for administering a wide range of unnecessary vaccinations to cats and dogs that sometimes result in the formation of vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS). That worthy undertaking must have fizzled out for one reason or another because nothing further was ever heard of the matter.
Shelters and so-called humane groups are even worse in that just about all of them microchip the cats and dogs that they offer to the public for adoption; the remainder they systematically exterminate. These implants, along with superfluous inoculations, allow them to jack up the prices that they charge for the handful of animals that they sell back to the public.
By behaving in such a patently inhumane manner it is clear that they look upon the animals that they take in as little more than animated 401(k) plans. C'est-à-dire,
they are merely investments from which they strive to reap the highest yield.
For example, Tierschutzverein Liechtenstein in Schaan only last week followed in South Bay Veterinary Group's footsteps by advocating that all cats be microchipped. (See Liechtensteiner Volkblatt of Schaan, October 30, 2010, "Aktion: Mikrochip für Katzen.")
Of late, a large number of municipalities in the United States have gotten in on the microchipping craze and now are requiring that all dogs receive the implants. El Paso, Texas, even requires the same of cats.
They likewise are every bit as guilty of killing cats, dogs, and other animals as Digital Angel, Merck, veterinarians, and shelters. That line of reasoning also could be extended to include the mass media and web sites that continue to accept advertising revenue from firms that they know are deliberately killing animals.
Lost in this debate is the petit fait
that as protective devices microchips are virtually worthless. They in no way protect animals from those who are intent upon doing them harm. In particular, they are powerless against the machinations of poisoners, motorists, thieves, and yobs armed in air guns and crossbows.
Microchips are only valuable when cats and dogs turn up at shelters and veterinarians' offices that are equipped with scanners in order to read them and even that process is far from being foolproof. For instance, chips not only operate at different frequencies but multiple scanners are required in order to read all of the different brands on the market.
Implanted microchips also have a tendency to float around inside animals' bodies and this makes them sometimes difficult to locate unless the person doing the scanning is both knowledgeable and diligent. For example, Lisa Massey's eight-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier, Hadden, was killed by the animal shelter in Stafford, Virginia, on April 21, 2004 because the staff used the wrong scanner and therefore was unable to locate his implanted microchip. (See Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, July 1, 2004, "Pet's Death Rekindles Electronic ID Debate.")
At other times the chips malfunction for various reasons. That is what happened to Richard and Jane Birtwistle's dog, Coco, in 2007 when they took him on a holiday with them from their home in Bury, Manchester, to Le Touquet-Paris-Plage in northern France. (See photo of him splashing in the water above.)
On their way home, immigration officials in Calais were unable to read Coco's chip and therefore refused to allow him to return to England with them. They then traveled to Dunkirk where they inveigled a veterinarian to surgically remove the chip.
Much to their chagrin, the scanners still were unable to read the chip. The couple thus was forced to place Coco in quarantine while they returned home to Bury without him.
The Birtwistles later estimated that Coco's microchip misadventures had cost them thousands of pounds in veterinary, quarantine, and administrative fees. "We want to warn all other holidaymakers about this," Jane told the Daily Mail
on April 17, 2007. (See "Impounded: Family Forced to Leave Their Dog in France Because Officials Couldn't Scan Its ID Chip.")
"When you leave the United Kingdom your dog isn't scanned at passport control so there is no way of knowing if your pet's microchip has failed until you try to get back in the United Kingdom."
Coco was by no means an isolated case and beginning in July of next year all cats and dogs traveling across borders in Europe will be required to be microchipped. It is indeed ironic that at a time when citizens from the fifteen countries participating in the Schengen Agreement are allowed to travel freely on one visa that a far more sinister and deadly Iron Curtain has been constructed out of Silicon Valley snake oil in order to keep out companion animals.
Sometimes Europeans demonstrate considerably more compassion and foresight when it comes to animals than do their American cousins while at other times they behave like mindless dupes bereft of even a smidgen of intellectual skepticism. Their wholehearted acceptance of implanted microchips quite obviously falls into the latter category.
In the final analysis it is up to pet owners to weigh the tradeoffs between the minimalist protections afforded by microchips and the risk, no matter how great or small, that their beloved companions will be stricken with cancer as the result of having them implanted. That should be a no-brainer for most individuals since cats and dogs can live without microchips but attempting to live with cancer is an altogether different matter. At the very least, proponents of microchipping should be compelled to demonstrate conclusively the safety of the devices.
The debasement and subjugation of the animal kingdom extends far beyond cats, dogs, and laboratory animals. Most notably, just about all animals used in the immoral and shameful production of meat have microchips implanted in them that track their unrelenting misery from birth to the slaughterhouse.
It therefore would not be surprising if these animals also develop cancers. If so, that likely means that the public is consuming cancerous meat.
The situation with wildlife has grown to be every bit as horrendous ever since men and women of conscience abandoned them to the machinations of thoroughly evil wildlife biologists who are hellbent upon degrading and enslaving them. Operating under the guise of saving them, these impostors relentlessly hound down large mammals, tranquilize them, and then fit them with radio collars.
Not only are innumerable animals killed during these tagging exercises but these inhumane acts are repeated throughout the animals' short, hellish lives in order to, inter alia,
change batteries in the transmitters, fit them with newer tracking gadgets, and because the biologists have nothing better to do with their miserable, worthless lives. (See Cat Defender posts of May 21, 2009 and April 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona" and "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.")
Large marine mammals, such as walruses, are tagged with transmitters attached to ice picks that are fired from crossbows, harpoons, and CO2 guns and in turn lodge in the animals' hide. (See photo above of Knud Lennart of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources assaulting a defenseless walrus with a harpoon.)
On top of pollution, melting ice, a scarcity of food, hunters, and collisions with ships, cancer is the last thing in the world that marine mammals need. The stress that accompanies being repeatedly hounded down and shot also takes its toll on the animals as well. (See Cat Defender post of February 29, 2008 entitled "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")
Smaller animals, such as fish and snakes, are tagged with implanted microchips in much the same fashion as cats, dogs, and livestock. Accordingly, they also could be dying of cancer.
Last but not least, it is estimated that several thousand men and women across the globe are walking around with implanted microchips. Medical reasons, security concerns, and convenience are the justifications most often given by those who have chosen to adopt the lifestyle of a piece of merchandise. (See Cat Defender post of May 4, 2006 entitled " Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")
The health risks associated with microchips and radio collars are gruesome enough themselves but there is an ever far more fundamental issue involved. To put it succinctly, the power to control translates into the power to know and that in turn equates with the power to kill.
For example, wildlife biologists routinely track down and murder big cats, wolves, bears, and other animals simply by homing in on the frequencies emitted by their radio collars. The doomed animals attempt to run but they are powerless to escape and sooner or later are mercilessly gunned down by assassins in either helicopters or airplanes.
The same cruel fate is destined to befall mankind. Moreover, through his unquestioning embrace of computers, mobile phones, and social networking sites man is running headlong into the very same pillories that are destined to bind him hard and fast forever.
"I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society," John D. MacDonald's fictional character Travis McGee sagely predicted way back in 1964 in The Quick Red Fox
. "Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted."
Nowadays it is not merely offbeats like McGee that are trapped in the totalitarians' spiraling web of intrigue but all of creation. It could be argued that if man no longer possesses any higher ambition than that of being a fat slave that he richly deserves his impending fate. He is, after all, a highly flexible being who is capable of adapting to almost any way of life no matter how shameful.
The animals, however, are not nearly as resilient. Take away their freedom and they cease to exist except as crude caricatures of their former selves as is seen with those that are cruelly imprisoned in zoos and at captive breeding facilities.
"Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled," Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote in the Brothers Karamazov.
"Don't trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent."
Paul McCartney once said essentially the same thing only a bit differently. "We've beaten into submission every animal on the face of the earth, so we are the clear winners of whatever battle is going on between the species," he observed. "Couldn't we be generous? I really do think it's time to get nice. No need to keep beating up on them. I thank we've got to show that we're kind."
Suffice it to say that individuals who truly care about animals never want to see them either subjugated or ravaged by man-induced cancers.Photos: Steven M. Wise (Bulkin), chipmenot.com (Halo), Daily Mail (Coco), and the BBC (Lennart).