Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of temperment shots and failing microchip scanners

File this under awkward doctor photos. She's cute tho isn't she?

Something happened at work that I felt was important to blog about. A couple of things actually. The first is that a person said her dog didn't need the temperment shot because she doesn't bite people. After discussing this with some co-workers we realized there are far to many people out there that think a distemper vaccine is actually a "temperment" shot. Um, no. This was not the first time that it was referenced to in that manner and it won't be the last I am sure. I think the word "temper" is throwing some people off. If there were a vaccine that changed a dogs temperment (behavior or demeanor) then aggression cases would be FAR easier to address. That is not the case. Distemper is actually a virus. You can read more about the details of it here. Sadly it can be fatal if not caught soon enough. We had a case at our hospital where a dog had it manifest with neurological symptoms and seizures. You can see video of that dog's "gum chewing" seizures here. Sadly that dog eventually had to be euthanized. So while it seems funny that people think it is a shot to prevent dogs from acting bad, it is much more important than that. While I know my blog readers aren't exactly my target audience for this post, I think we need to educate people on the difference.
The other thing that happened was that our "universal" microchip reader failed to read a microchip we knew a pet had. When the doctor called the company he was told it wasn't the reader but the chip. (made by a different company of course) After doing some research and making more calls to various microchip companies he found out some disturbing information. (one representative even admitted the companies hated each other) It turns out that in the microchip company wars one of the things companies did was the change the frequency of their chips slightly so other companies couldn't read them. I forget the details of why they did it exactly. (tho I'm sure it had to do with money) The disturbing part is that this means that some supposedly "universal" microchip scanners don't actually always work on all microchips. That's right, they don't work on all chips as they say they do. To me this is a BIG problem. If they are saying that their scanner can read all the chips, and it can't, how many pets are being adopted out from shelters who didn't find a chip? Or even worse, how many pets are being euthanized because the scanner didn't work for them? This is horrible.
I find it sad that companies that SAY they are about protecting pets can't freaking work together to help ALL the pets, not just the ones using their companies microchip. It is ridiculous. The company sent us a newer scanner that does pick up the other chips. It's a good thing we knew the pet had that other chip though or we might not have picked up on the problem. So pass this information on so others know. Microchips are NOT always the best protection. A collar with tags is your first line of defense when it comes to a missing pet. When people find a lost pet with a collar and tag they know it is a loved pet and they have the tools they need to find it's home if they chose. I have always recommended microchips in case they lose their collar, or if you need irrefutable proof a dog is yours a microchip works better than a photo. (especially in the case of purebreds who all like similar)
So if you use a microchip scanner in any capacity, please check it frequently with other chips. I think the only way we can try to hold these companies accountable for their "universal" scanner BS is to make sure we check them frequently and CALL them on it when we find it isn't working as advertised. So pass this information on to get the word out. Damn how I hate that money is all some companies care about!!


Katie said...

Was it one of those chips from Banfield?

I worry about Steve's chip because his is a HomeAgain but the international frequency one, so it can't be read with all scanners (but if he ever gets lost abroad, we'll be all set). Tags are definitely the first line of defense!

Marie said...

The chip that couldn't be read was an Avid (in a show dog) and the reader was from Home Again. :( My dogs both have an Avid. I haven't chipped the puppy yet, not sure I will.

Ruth said...

Bad enough to have a giant puppy who looks and sounds very intimidating, AND has a disturding tendancy of barrelling towards someone he wants to see at top speed and a sliding stop at the last second, but now if said person ever manages to get over their fright they might not find his chip?? Arg!

House of Hagg said...

That's why I have 'FurCode' Tags. They are quite inexpensive and a smart phone can just read the coding symbol on the front of the tag that opens up a whole page you set up for the dog. It tells the name, address, vet, meds needed, insurance or anything else you feel is important. And if you don't have a smart phone, on the back of the tag, it gives a web address with specific id to your dog's info.
I have a blog post about it. It think they are great. And a lot of people who might find your dog, might not even know to have it scanned for a chip anyway. Here's the link:

Anonymous said...

oh frick. between the four dogs, three are avid and one is home again. what the heck?! these companies are horrible.

I once heard someone in our vet's office asking why her dog needed a distemper shot, because he didn't have a high temperature :)
Then again, in her defense, as much literature thats available in the waiting room about rabies or heartworms or lyme, there isn't anything on distemper.