August 5th this year, an online friend’s house was burgled and besides a small amount of valuables the family missed their cat, a purebred Persian. She was at least chipped, but not registered, and her owners left no stone unturned to get her back – of course in social media, too. Indeed, after a couple of days the cat was found, sitting in a tree. Apparently, she had been in the burglars’ or their accomplices’ hands for a couple of days and finally was abandonned, put up in that tree (Rheinische Post, in German).
Little Chantal is lucky! Every day, thousands of pets get lost in Europe, hundreds in Germany. Most of them accidentally. Owners desperately call for help are published in social media and pin flyers on trees and walls and on blackboards in waiting rooms at the vets’. In the meantime, many pets are found somewhere and handed over to shelters, where volunteers publish pictures and descritions of their furry clients on their websites and social media, to reunite pet and owner.
If lost pets are chipped and registered with one of the online databases (like IFTA, TASSO, Findefix in Germany), things go smoothly. As soon as the pet arrives at the shelter, it is checked for a chip. If it is chiped, the ID# is checked with the databases. In case the chip has a foreign code, databases of the country of origin are checked. This way a pet properly chipped and registered quickly returms to its family, without any time and nerve-consuming search necessary.
Why do I write this over and over? Because too many pets not only in Germany are not chipped and even chipped, too many are not registered. Because too many pet owners think it is not necessary:
- “My cat is just a house cat.”
- “My dog is always with me.”
- “It’s not necessary with small pets.”
According to the law, an identification is only necessary, when you take your pet abroad f.e. on a holiday. To cross a border, your pet needs a vaccination against rabies which is documented (within the EU) in a blue pet passport. To identify the vaccination for your pet, it needs to be chipped with the ID number of the chip documented within the pet passport as well. The whole procedure does not serve pet or owner, but the fight against rabies.
Yet all breed clubs have decided to identify dogs listed in their stud books. Back then, the identification was done by tattoos, now clubs are using transponders with a 15-digit ID number, globally. This procedure guarantees the identification of a specific animan’s pedigree.
In addition, many breeders register their pups, as soon as they are chipped. SO even if the owner forgets to change the registration to his name and address, the breeder will be called, if the pet gets lost.
Anybody with a bit of wit now wil ask him or herself, why this simple procedure, proved and tested millions of times, is not used to fight the gruesome business of puppy mills and pet market? If chipping and registering (and a rabies shot) are a requirement not only for crossing borders, but also for any born pup or kitten, their origin can be traced completely – just like lifestock: Proof of origin and traceability will impede the trafficking in puppies from puppy mills, stolen or simply picked up dogs.
And not just incidentally we assemble a whole lot of valid data about interrelations between the origin of pets and their health. If the identification is also used at the vets’, we can easily collect and evaluate these data without any problems concerning privacy. The extraction of necessary data only need to be rendered anonymous for the persons involved.
I know quite well that someone who deliberately bought a pup from puppy trafficking, will certainly not be honest about the origin, when caught with an unchipped pup, but pretend to be fooled, knowing that his actions might rouse further investigations. Of course, some will break the rules despite of any consequences, because they think they’re super smart. But that does not make the rules pointless and needless in principle. We have laws prosecuting burglary, despite of some people, burgling houses despite of law enforcements and prosecution.
Comparing the number of fashy breed dogs registered with the well-known German pet database by TASSO to the number of pups born in breed clubs overseen by the VDH, leaves no doubt that more than 90 % (more like 97 to 99 %) of all those dogs were produced without any control or supervision in puppy mills and trafficked illegally, many from Eastern European countries. Thanks to the tireless work of voluteers for animal welfare and animal protection like 4 Pfoten, it is pretty well known that in those puppy mills the dogs and bitches are gravely abused just to produce litter after litter and when they no longer produce, trafficked as “poor stray dogs looking for a home” or killed.
We must draw a line here! And it will not slow down without a proof of origin and traceability of pets, just like lifestock.
Breed clubs already do that, voluntarily. To clearly identify a dog and prove his or her pedigree.
The current German government is based on a coalition contract that includes the implementation of a general identification and registration of dogs (“Die Kennzeichnung und Registrierung von Hunden werden obligatorisch.“ / “The identification marking and registration of dogs will become mandatory.”, p.44). Nothing has happened so far. Quod erat expectandum. It has been a subject of talking for so long.
Instead, the past federal minister of agriculture, taking care of animal protection as well, enforced an “animal protection ordinance for dogs” (Tierschutz-Hundeverordnung) that takes care of but some favorite AR truisms, a hypocritical crusade against breed clubs and breeders who do not cage their livestock in dark and filthy places and use them to produce litter after litter of pups, doomed to be trafficked. And this will not end, until a complete proof of origin and complete traceabilty is enforcced.
So far, identification and registration is up to each pet owner, voluntarily.