Microchips Aid Horse Recovery After Katrina

Microchip manufacturers report they have experienced recent increased interest in microchips, presumably due to the microchips' help in recovering animals following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Microchipping horses involves the use of transponders about the size of a grain of rice enclosed in a glass vial implanted in the left nuchal ligament (about halfway up the horse's neck). The transponder contains a unique 10-digit alpha/numeric code that can be read by a radiofrequency identification (RFID) reader. Each code is referenced in a registry so the animal can be identified.

In 1994, Louisiana began requiring permanent identification in all horses using a brand, tattoo, or microchip. Kevin Owen, DVM, president of Electronic ID Inc. in Cleburne, Texas, said about 70-80% of Louisiana horse owners chose to microchip their animals.

Of nearly 400 displaced or rescued equines processed at one evacuation facility following Hurricane Katrina, only three horses did not have unique identification.

Owen reported an increase in microchip sale at Electronic ID. "I believe that people want to take more measures to protect their horses as a result of the hurricanes," said Owen. "The hurricanes really illustrated the need for advance planning...the microchip allows animals to easily be identified and traced back to their owners."

About the Author

Liz Stitt, Editorial Intern

Liz Stitt was The Horse's editorial intern in 2005 and a student majoring in equine science and English at the University of Kentucky.

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