ID MyHorse Emergency Medical and Identification Tags have only been on the market for a month. To my knowledge, there is nothing out there quite like these tags. Consequently, I have been looking into advertising to get the word out about their existence. During a conversation with a Californian, she strongly urged me to put special effort into letting the California horse community know about these tags.
California is experiencing an extremely serious fire season. She told me about 850 horses ending up at a fairground facility after owners turned them loose to escape the fire. Very few of them had any identifying information. As part of my research into this situation, I read several articles about microchipping horses. I am a small animal veterinarian who is quite familiar with microchipping dogs and cats. However, I found I had some questions about how this might work (or not work) in horses.
Potential applications for a microchip
This article, written by a veterinarian, made the most sense to me in terms of how microchipping could be a significant asset to the equine community. A stallion owner can be confident that his stallion is covering the agreed-upon mare. When you enter your horse in a show, you can prove you are riding the horse you entered. If someone steals your horse, you have concrete proof of ownership. But what about microchips as a method of recovery in a catastrophe like the California wildfires?
Even if some of those 850 horses thrown together at a fairground facility had microchips, what would have to occur to ensure a speedy return to their owners? Someone would have to have a scanner, and a newer scanner, as the old ones don’t always read the new chips. If the horse has a chip, the chip number must be recorded. Next, the rescuer must be able to match that horse with the researched, scanned number at a later date. If the number yields information, what if the owner’s information is not current? Does everyone involved in rescuing horses turned loose in a catastrophic situation know that if a chip is present, it can be found on the left side in the nuchal ligament? What if it has migrated and isn’t there anymore?
Apparently, the volunteer staff looking after the horses were doing a great job. The California resident said they were taking impeccable care of their unexpected guests. Furthermore, many people were volunteering to help and donate money. That was all wonderful news…. but the task still remains to match horses and owners. I didn’t create these tags for this purpose. However, I quickly realized that there were many situations where owners might have to release horses to fend for themselves. If I faced that decision, I would most definitely have identifying information woven into their mane or tail.