Vets get business from microchipping

Vets have seen a surge in new patients with the microchipping law that comes into force with the new year. As I posted recently, my cat was among the wave.

I’ve been pondering this chipping law and I have questions I wish journalists would ask, but so far I haven’t seen them asked or answered.

My first concern is that the collected data is in the hands of some private company presumably chosen by the city. That means the personal data of thousands of pet owners is at the mercy of an outfit who could do anything with it, or could leave it open or have it hacked. In addition, the database linking the chip with pet owners’ contact information depends on the continuity of that company. Should it go under, what then? (The company also sells pet insurance. It’s not disinterested in the acquisition of pet owner data.)

Another question I have is about the city pound. It’s been nearly ten years since the shortcomings of Berger Blanc were unmasked by Radio-Canada, yet some boroughs still contract with them. I don’t know whether it’s still the case that Berger Blanc doesn’t have a chip reader, and makes few efforts to identify or inform owners when an animal ends up there, preferring to put animals down to save money, but I have heard things like this on and off in the ten years since the Radio‑Canada report.

In other words: we’re obliged to chip our pets, but is there any guarantee that this business selected by the city, or at least by some of its boroughs, will even trouble to check for a chip in animals brought in, and act on the information? Since the city is charging us for permits and making us pay for chipping, they need to make clear what services they’re guaranteeing from their contractors.

And that leads to the promised city pound project. Like all modern projects it’s bound to end up costing a lot more than initially estimated, but it was conceived in response to a need. The Coderre administration promised the project after general outrage over the Berger Blanc revelations, but it has never materialized. The latest news I have on it is from a year ago when it was said to be delayed.