The same technology state-regulatory agencies use as a means of permanent identification can work for your horse. An implanted microchip allows your horse to be scanned and is the best means of permanent identification.
It’s already in wide use with pets — having returned countless stolen/lost pets to their owners — and is used to identify and track wildlife. We’d like to see its use increase in horses, not only to recover stolen horses, but also to replace branding and tattooing.
Microchip implantation is likely to become a disease-control tool. Programs for eliminating serious infectious diseases, like EIA, work only if horses can be accurately identified and tracked. Breeds using brands or tattoos are easier to identify than those that rely only on body markings, but microchips are ideal.
The technology also helps protect against theft, a problem that’s on the rise. With this technology, you and the chip manufacturer and/or your veterinarian have a permanent record of the chip ID number. Most veterinarians and law-enforcement agencies are equipped with microchip scanners, and an increasing number of slaughterhouses and auctions are also beginning to scan horses.
Some chips may require a specific scanner to get an exact reading but, even if an incompatible scanner is used, it will detect the presence of a microchip. That’s enough to alert authorities to get a reading with the correct device. In most cases, however, universal chip-reading scanners are becoming the norm.
Microchips can’t be seen or felt by a potential thief, but placing prominent signs stating that all horses on the premises are microchipped would be an effective theft deterrent — much like signs on houses that are protected by intruder-monitoring systems. See July 2000 and March 2003 for more information (web site or 800-424-7887).
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