The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Victory for Pet Owners! San Marcos, TX, Overturns Microchip Mandate

by Katherine Albrecht
Local animal owners no longer required to chip their pets

The City Council of San Marcos, Texas, unanimously voted this week to rescind a mandatory pet microchipping ordinance that would have required all pets within city limits to receive an injected implant. The 7 to 0 vote was made at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night. All members were present and voted, including Mayor Susan Clifford-Narvaiz, according to San Marcos Communications Director Melissa Millecam.

The chipping ordinance was originally adopted last December and was slated to take effect on April 1st. The measure had sparked months of heated opposition and repeated demonstrations by local residents, including a protest and candlelight vigil at the March 3rd City Council meeting that drew a crowd of over 300 people.

The March 3rd protest took place during the last City Council meeting, and was heavily covered by the local television and print media. The protest, combined with the empassioned testimony of numerous local residents, prompted the City Council to agree to reconsider the measure at its March 31st meeting, at which point the measure was overturned.

Revisions to the ordinance passed "on emergency" Tuesday night, and removed the microchipping requirement effective immediately. The City Council also voted to lift the prohibition against the sale or adoption of animals in parking lots and to allow the keeping of hens in residential areas.

"We applaud the San Marcos City Council for this decision," said local activist Lisa Marie Coppoletta, who helped organize the March 3rd rally. "Chipping should be a voluntary decision between pet owners and their veterinarians. It should never be mandated by the government."

Opponents of mandatory chipping cite research linking the implants with cancer in dogs, as well as peer-reviewed studies showing that 1% to 10% of laboratory animals injected with implantable microchips develop cancer around the implants. They say this information is well known to Home Again parent company Schering Plough, but that the company has withheld the information from pet owners and the veterinary community.

Debate over the chipping ordinance heated up in February when a longhaired chihuahua named Charlie Brown bled to death just hours after receiving a microchip implant mandated by Los Angeles County.

"As people become more aware of the dangers of microchip implants, we expect other communities to follow suit," said Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a nationally-known RFID microchip expert and liberty activist who flew in from New Hampshire to speak at the March 3rd event and share her research with the City Council. "We are pleased that San Marcos officials responded appropriately to the groundswell of opposition to this technology."

Albrecht, who has extensively researched the microchip-cancer connection, expressed concern that government officials have been issuing microchip mandates without reviewing all of the facts. In addition, she points out that many members of the public view microchip mandates as an inappropriate incursion on pet owners' rights.

"Such laws set a bad precedent with a controversial and unpopular technology," Albrecht said. "The San Marcos episode serves as a reminder to government officials everywhere that the people--and their pets--will not tolerate forced chipping. We'll be taking this message, and this movement, nationwide," she added.

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