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Electronic identification of animals

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Ratification Date: 08 Apr 2016

Policy

  1. Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is the preferred method of permanently identifying individual animals.
  2. Devices and systems used for electronic identification of animals must conform to relevant Australian Standards for implantation and scanning devices. Implantation and scanning procedures must be performed in accordance with statutory and local authority requirements.
  3. Implantation should only be performed by veterinarians.
  4. Records must be maintained and forwarded to licensed animal registry services in accordance with legislative requirements.
  5. If microchip batches are known to have failed, manufacturers and distributers must immediately notify wholesalers, registries and veterinarians. This is to enable tracking and re-chipping of all animals that have received potentially faulty microchips, and ensure that unused microchips from the affected batch are removed from sale.
  6. Scanning of animals to verify implanted microchip function should be a routine component of annual health examinations.

Background

RFID devices include microchips and other electronic tags. Use of this technology enables operators to identify individual animals by the means of a unique identification number that then can be linked to an owner, business or property.

Efficient, practical and functional RFID systems and accredited registries that identify animals and their owners are essential to enable the prompt reunion of lost pets with their owners and for tracing animals in the event of a natural disaster, exotic disease outbreak or biosecurity incident.

There are four essential elements that must be integrated and controlled in order to provide effective and reliable RFID systems:

  • The identification device (i.e. the microchip implant or transponder).
  • The reader (scanner) network.
  • Database (registry) operation and management.
  • Defined operational procedures for implantation and scanning.
The identification device (microchip implant)

Only ISO-compliant full duplex (FDX)-B technology should be used in companion animals. Note that

animals imported from other countries may not have compliant microchips; when these are detected the owners must be immediately notified and use of a compliant device should be recommended.

Microchips must also conform to Australian Standard AS 5019-2001 including Normative Annex ZA detailing additional requirements for transponders and readers in dogs and cats. Devices that can be reprogrammed with ownership information after implantation must not be used as the primary source of owner identification. These devices allow ownership and contact information to be altered without adequate audit trail and notification of the registry. The registry data should always be regarded as the single point of truth for ownership information and be protected under legislation in each state. It is the AVA’s position that devices which permit or bring about alteration of the RFID identification string should not be used in Australia.

All adverse reactions should be reported to the AVA and the manufacturer. Any manufacturing failures should be identified. If an animal has been implanted with a faulty RFID device, the original should be left in situ and a new RFID device implanted.

Manufacturers and distributors have an obligation to maintain an effective transponder audit trail.  They must maintain and provide to registries skeleton records of microchips imported into Australia. There must also be systems in place to allow tracing of where microchips are on-sold.

The reader (scanner) network

The reader/transponder interface must be responsive enough to enable the identification details to be read when the reader is passed over the site of implantation. Only backwards-compatible multireaders that read both ISO-compliant FDX-B microchips and all types of FDX-A microchips should be supplied in Australia until FDX-A microchip implants have been out of use for at least 20 years (i.e. 2021). The reader should display the complete unique identification number (i.e. the manufacturer code followed by the microchip identification number).

Reader systems for microchip implants must also meet the requirements as detailed in AS 5019.

Standards for Australian RFID systems should be based on ISO 11784 and ISO 11785, with significant modifications to suit Australian conditions. The Australian Standards are AS 5018 and AS 5019, with a Normative Annex ZA detailing additional requirements for transponders and readers in dogs and cats, and Informative Annex ZB relating to registry function.

Database (registry) operation and management

Electronic identification of animals is a national concern and the AVA supports a move to more nationally consistent legislation on registry operation and management.

The database registry has a central role in all aspects of management, security and accountability of electronic identification systems. Strict adherence by registry service providers to defined operational procedures for recording of information and registry management is the only assurance of the uniqueness of the number of each RFID device.

This includes the management of transponder skeleton records and audit trails of implanted devices.

Registry service providers must abide by protocols to ensure back-up of data and continuity of performance in the event one of them defaults. Confidentiality and privacy of data must be maintained and information must not be passed to unrelated third parties unless required by law.

RFID (microchip) distributors must supply licensed database registries with an electronic skeleton list of microchip numbers imported into Australia for identification purposes, together with the contact details of any entity that has been supplied specified microchips.

Identification and listing in the database system must be for the life of the animals involved.

Operational procedures for implantation and scanning
The operator

The implanter should preferably be a veterinarian, because of the knowledge of aseptic technique, anatomy and pain relief required. The accountability of registered veterinarians fosters accuracy, confidentiality and expertise in record keeping.

If state legislation permits implantation by non-veterinarians, this should only be permitted after a suitable training course and under the supervision of a registered veterinarian.

Implantation procedure for all animal species

Prior to implantation with a microchip the animal should be thoroughly scanned to ensure a microchip is not already in place. If a microchip is detected the details should be recorded and the owner advised that the animal has already been identified, and the relevant registry notified. The incident should be followed up with the appropriate authorities.

Prior to implantation the microchip should be scanned to ensure it is functioning and that the number corresponds to its accompanying documentation.

The microchip must be implanted at the correct site for each species (see below). In species destined for human consumption, the site is usually the head or neck to avoid carcass contamination. An appropriate aseptic technique should be used.

Following implantation, the animal should be scanned to ensure implantation has been successful and that the microchip continues to function.

Using the approved form, the operator should complete animal, owner and transponder details. The labels provided with each microchip should be used to avoid transcription errors. Both the operator and the owner or agent must sign the form.

The operator should forward the identification form to a licensed registry (see Appendix A). Refer to relevant state jurisdictions for statutory reporting timeframes.

All adverse reactions should be reported to the AVA and the manufacturer. Scanning of animals for microchip implants

Scanning of animals for the presence of implanted microchips should follow a standard procedure that takes

into account the reader’s design and function, scanning pattern, species implantation sites and the scanning environment.

Scanning technique should comprise two steady sweeps along the long axis of the animal and two sweeps perpendicular to the long axis centred on the standard implantation site for that species, at a speed of 0.5 m/s. Scanning of animals to verify implanted microchip function should be a routine component of annual health examinations.

All stray animals and those of uncertain ownership should also be scanned for the presence of a microchip as an essential step in the initial examination.

Appendix A – Animal-specific guidelines

Dogs and cats
  • ISO-compliant (ISO 117784) full duplex (FDX)-B microchips to be used
  • Implant subcutaneously using aseptic technique in the dorsum between the scapulae with the chip lying at an angle to the skin plane.
  • Register with a registry licensed within the relevant jurisdiction, or
  • If there is no legislation regulating registries in the relevant jurisdiction, register with one of the registries licensed in states that have such legislation.
  • If residing in NSW, dogs and cats must also be registered with the NSW Companion Animal Register
Horses
  • Thoroughbred horses – use only microchips supplied by the Australian Stud Book
  • Other horses may be implanted using the same devices / scanners as dogs and cats.
  • Implant into the nuchal ligament, 3 cm below the crest and approximately half-way between the poll and the withers on the left-hand (near) side. Use of sedation and local anaesthesia is at the discretion of the veterinarian.
  • Implantation to record Equivac HeV vaccination status - register with the Hendra Vaccination Registry
Reptiles
  • May be implanted using the same devices and scanners as for dogs and cats.
  • Implant sites for reptiles vary according to classification. Crocodiles are implanted just rostral to the nuchal cluster. All other Orders are implanted on the left side at varying sites. Turtles are implanted in the hindlimb fossa and most lizards and snakes subcutaneously in the caudal body. Lizards smaller than 12.5 cm SNV (snout/vent length) are implanted intracoelomically.
  • Register with a licensed animal registry as per Dogs and Cats above.
Companion birds
  • May be implanted using the same devices and scanners as for dogs and cats.
  • Implant intramuscularly in the left pectoral muscle. Small avian species are to be implanted subcutaneously in the same region.
  • Register with a licensed animal registry as per Dogs and Cats above
Small mammals
  • May be implanted using the same devices and scanners as for dogs and cats.
  • Implantation site may vary with species.
  • Register with a licensed animal registry (if privately owned) as per Dogs and Cats above.
  • If implanting as part of a research protocol, the data may be held by the research institution.
Fish and other aquarium species
  • May be implanted using the same devices and scanners as for dogs and cats. Implantation site may vary with species
  • Frogs should be implanted intracoelomically in the left caudal body or subcutaneously in the left dorsal lymph sac. Only frogs greater than 50 mm SVL should be implanted.
  • Register with a licensed animal registry (if privately owned) as per Dogs and Cats above.
  • If implanting as part of a research protocol, the data may be held by the research institution
Alpacas
  • May be implanted using the same devices and scanners as for dogs and cats
  • Implant subcutaneously midway on the left neck or on top of the head, behind the left ear.
  • Register with a licensed animal registry as per Dogs and Cats above.
Cattle, Sheep and Goats
  • Refer to the NLIS (National Livestock Identification Scheme) information on the website of the relevant state jurisdiction.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Domestic Animal Registries Inc.

Date ratified by AVA Board 8 April 2016