Monday, January 16, 2006

Microchip Identification

I worked this weekend with North Florida Horse Rescue at their microchip clinic. The hope is to have as many horses "chipped" as possible before the start of the Hurricane season starts. Alot has been learned from the disasters of Hurricanes Andrew and katrina and how we can better prepare.
After Andrew went through south Florida hundreds of horses were displaced, abandoned or found dead. Several Veterinarians I know that worked in the aftermath told me of coming across drainage ditches with dozens of dead horses in them. At that point all identifying marks, brands and halter tags are gone, and they all looked the same.....bloated, brown and mud covered. Without a way of permanantly identifying them they were simply lost. In the state of Lousiana they are required to use permanant identification and 90% use microchips. Due to this fact, the overwhelming majority of horses lost during hurricane Katrina were identified. In the past there was no universal reader for different microchips, but now there is. We are using AVID, the market standard in our practice and at the NFHR clinic. This is a simple proceedure that involves injecting a small ( pencil lead size) chip under the skin into the nuchal ligament midway down the neck. It can then be read with a hand held scanner and it lasts for the life of the horse. In the event your horse is stollen, the horse slaughter houses in the US are required to scan each horse before proceeding and notify the AVID database. After a natural disaster, AVID works with rescue groups and VMAT (Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams) to provide scanners so that all of the horses rescued are identified and the owners notified. I would encourage all of you to look into having your horse chipped this year, the time is right and as we are moving into a time where Hurricanes will be more common, you dont want to get caught not knowing what happened to your horse.

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