Victorian laws requiring microchip numbers in dog ads unethical

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Victorian canine microchip laws are unethical, unworkable and fatally flawed
Victorian canine microchip laws are unethical, unworkable and fatally flawed

– In today’s Daily Dog we reveal how the current Victorian legislation regarding microchipping of dogs and the requirements for canine ads to include such microchip numbers in them is a pointless exercise, achieving nothing for the stated aim of increasing animal welfare.

As it stands:

All Victorian advertisers of puppies or adult dogs are required not only to microchip their dogs (a practice pups4sale wholeheartedly endorses), but to include the microchip number of each dog as part of an online advertisement for the sale of the animal. Some exceptions are made – such as in the case where pups are yet to be born. However once pups are born, the stupidity of the current legislation begins to reveal itself, with the requirement that even newborn pups – too young to be microchipped – must have their lives placed at risk with an additional visit to a Veterinary Surgery.

At risk from a visit to the Vet?

Newborn pups are simply too young to be microchipped, yet smart advertisers are wise to advertise pups as soon as they are born. Doing so maximises the opportunity for the breeder to select the best home for each puppy by increasing the number of people who will enquire or apply for a pup. Forcing a breeder to take pups to the Vet when they are literally hours or a few days old, simply in order to be able to advertise them for sale results in:

. An additional consultation fee the breeder is forced to pay to the Vet, on top of that incurred when the pups are vaccinated – a process that normally begins at four weeks of age.

. An increased risk to the pups of acquiring deadly diseases such as Parvo Virus, as the younger the pup the less developed the immune system and the more susceptible they are to catching such diseases. Each trip to a Veterinary surgery increases the risk, as such places are precisely the locations where dogs who are sick with such contagious diseases are taken for treatment.

If the Vet (rightly) believes newborn pups are too young to be microchipped, s/he can issue a Certificate to that effect, thus satisfying the legislation. However in order to do so, the Vet must see the pups, which as mentioned above incurs an additional consultation fee to the breeder, in addition to the fee levied for the issuance of the Certificate. Plus as also mentioned above, the act of visiting the Vet surgery exposes the very young pups to dangerous pathogens. Such a requirement on behalf of the Legislation is clearly unethical; endangering the very welfare of the animals it purports to protect.

It gets worse –  accuracy of chip numbers unable to be easily checked

Due to Federal and State privacy legislation, the information contained on the databases of any of the many private microchip registries in existence is simply not able to be accessed at will by just anybody. Indeed this is how it should be. If it were not the case, then anyone wishing to steal a puppy need only utilise the microchip number displayed in a given ad, ring around to find the registry the chip is registered with and obtain the address details of the advertiser.

Authorised officers such as Council officers, Veterinarians and RSPCA workers are able to be supplied with the contact details of an animal from the registry that animal is registered with. However this authority is applicable in cases where a dog has been seized or surrendered and the owner needs to be located. Where the dog is not physically present, of course the microchip cannot be read and the details on it retrieved – hence no-one knows which registry the dog is registered with. So for an authorised officer to find out from an advertisement which Microchip Registry a puppy is registered with, s/he needs to laboriously contact each and every microchip registry in order to obtain a match. Unwieldy and a waste of time & resources? You bet.

What should be done?

The fatally flawed Victorian microchip legislation as it pertains to advertising should be completely scrapped. In its place a system of large fines (in the thousands of dollars) should be introduced and levied on each person who knowingly sells a dog without a microchip in place. Simple, effective, and able to save the long-suffering taxpayer a fortune, this approach could easily replace the current laws.

The deterrent effect such fines would have, together with the impact of an education and media campaign to back it up, would in the opinion of the Daily Dog achieve the same goal of ensuring microchip compliance by puppy breeders that the current flawed legislation seeks to achieve – and without the cost.

At the moment, a huge amount of public money (that’s YOUR money by the way) is wasted each week in Victoria in order to employ people at State and Local Government levels to trawl through many hundreds of advertisements for litters of puppies; seeking to enforce compliance with the existing Legislation. Remember of course that such compliance officers have no way of simply checking a database to determine whether the microchip numbers displayed in advertisements are correct or not. Unless such officers wish to spend their time endlessly ringing around various Registries, all they can do is verify if a number – which can be any number – is displayed with an ad. What a pointless exercise in futility, underscoring our claim that the law as it stands is fatally flawed.

The Police don’t like the idea of identifying information being place online and neither should you

Pups4sale understands there are moves being considered to make the details on microchips publicly available to all who enquire. Ostensibly this is so that people can quickly reunite lost dogs with their owners, and for other equally noble reasons such as to confirm a puppy about to be purchased indeed matches the microchip number supplied.

Howver, Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Fraud Squad previously warned in an interview with the Courier Mail newspaper of the dangers of publishing personally identifying information on the internet. Whilst the Officer was referring specifically to information posted on Facebook, the overall principle remains the same. Indeed Detective Superintendent Hay has been so concerned about what happens to private information posted on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet that he has publicly advised people to use aliases and incorrect personal information when online.

Criminal syndicates use sophisticated software to trawl the internet, looking for private information that has been publicly posted, in order for them to use that information for criminal purposes. It takes little imagination to picture a scenario where such types obtain the address of a puppy breeder from a microchip number posted on a classified ad and then target the breeder for a burglary or other crime. If the information attached to the microchip numbers the Victorian Government is forcing Victorians to display with their puppy ads does become publicly accessible, it is a guarantee such information will be used to commit crimes.

How can puppy buyers still be protected without such laws in place?

An education program for all Victorians could be quickly put in place to remind people they must be presented with a Microchip Certificate when they pick up their new puppy from the breeder. All a purchaser has to do in order to check the details on a certificate are correct is:

A: Ring the Registry listed on the Certificate and confirm the details, and/or

B: Pop into their local Vet and have the microchip number read, ensuring its number matches the number on the Certificate.

The pups4sale alternative to the issue is practical and effective

In order for advertisers to advertise on pups4sale, they must agree to comply with our Code of Ethics and Terms & Conditions of Use. Point 3 of such Terms specifically deals with the issue of vaccinations and microchipping.

Advertisers must supply Microchip Certificates to puppy purchasers when the purchaser collects his/her puppy – end of story. Each advertiser on pups4sale is verified by us and we have their address and contact details on file. If an advertiser was silly enough not to microchip their litter or supply a Certificate with each pup, a complaint by the buyer concerned is all that is required for us to contact the authorities and start the investigative ball rolling.

Because of the strict oversight pups4sale applies to our site, people who intend to do the wrong thing rarely try to advertise with us. Instead they advertise with many of the internet pirates who do not police their advertisers or ads, such as those exposed in the Australian Puppy Scams Hall of Shame. Were such sites to apply the rigorous standards we do to our advertisers, then people who intend to do the wrong thing could be quickly identified and reported to the authorities, who would then in turn catch many more wrong-doers than they catch now.

Because our approach is far superior and more effective than the unworkable, pointless, inefficient, unethical and basically useless Victorian Government microchip advertising laws, pups4sale does not and will not enforce such requirements upon our advertisers. As a Queensland registered and operated business, effectively we could tell the Victorian Government to go whistle over requests for us to comply with their microchip-numbers-in-advertising laws. Instead however we continue to encourage them to take our suggestions on board, scrap the existing laws, replace them with new ones that actually do something other than employ bureaucrats, and we will be most happy to consider complying.

After all, if this whole issue is truly about animal welfare, then we’re sure the wise people in the Victorian Government will be willing to work with organisations such as pups4sale in order to assist them get their act together and produce effective legislation in this important area. We shall see of course.

2 Responses to “Victorian laws requiring microchip numbers in dog ads unethical”

  1. Janet Lewis

    My opinion on advertising the micro chip number is giving the criminals all the info they need to steal pups from breeders and buyers they only have to send them to another state and they can sell them to anyone this life time chip should be private

    • pups4sale

      Yes Janet. In the name of “being seen to do something” the authorities have compromised privacy and put young pups at risk by forcing them to be taken unnecessarily to the Vet for an additional visit. Animal welfare gains from this = zero.

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