The pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. and implant maker Digital Angel have been sued over a cancerous tumor in a cat that allegedly formed because of the companies’ pet ID microchip, HomeAgain.
The alleged victim of the microchip product was a cat named Bulkin that survived the cancer after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, according to the complaint filed by the cat’s owner, Andrea Rutherford, in Cambridge, Mass., District Court.
The HomeAgain chip contains a tiny radio that transmits a code that can be scanned at animal shelters, enabling the pet to be identified and returned to its owner.
Katherine Albrecht, an expert on adverse reactions associated with implantable microchips, is assisting Rutherford in the case. Albrecht’s consumer advocacy group CASPIAN launched a website, ChipMeNot.com, that features a registry where pet owners can report harm caused by implanted microchips. The postings allege other cats, dogs, mice, rats and small animals that have been injured or killed by implanted ID chips.
“Based on the alarming number of microchip-linked cancers we’re discovering, I predict this lawsuit will be just the tip of the iceberg,” Albrecht said.
Rutherford’s attorney, animal-rights specialist Steven Wise, says the complaint seeks compensatory damages for a malignant tumor “likely” induced by a HomeAgain ID chip implanted in the cat.
Digital Angel, a Minnesota-based company that specializes in global positioning satellite and radio frequency identification technology products, developed the controversial VeriChip human implant, which has stirred opposition from civil-liberties activists and some who believe the device could be a fulfillment of biblical prophecy regarding the “mark of the beast.”
WND previously has reported on chips used in hospitals to identify newborns, VeriChip’s desire to embed chips in immigrants, a government health event showcasing the product and Wal-Mart’s use of chips to track customers.
Albrecht peer-reviewed an academic paper, “Microchip-Induced Tumors in Laboratory Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 1990-2006,” that documents numerous cases. She presented the paper at a June conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers devoted to concerns about implantable microchips.
Her website documents the chip-related cancer deaths of two dogs within the past year. It features a form in which pet owners can report adverse microchip reactions, since there is currently no official registry in the U.S. to collect such data.
A French bulldog named Léon developed a lump at the microchip site only eight months after implantation. A biopsy indicated the dog had a fibrosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
As WND reported, a Chihuahua named Charlie Brown bled to death from the chipping procedure.
The dog’s owner, Lori Ginsberg, said at the time that she was not in favor of getting her dog chipped but was forced to by law.
The ordinance requires all dogs over the age of 4 months in unincorporated Los Angeles County be microchipped. Dog owners who refuse to comply face a $250 fine for the first offense and up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for continued non-compliance.
Albrecht said that Merck and organizations that advocate pet chipping “should take this lawsuit seriously and start warning pet owners of the risk of microchip-induced cancer.”
“As Andrea Rutherford and other pet owners can tell you, it’s not a statistic when it’s your pet,” she said.
Albrecht’s group CASPIAN educates consumers about the dangers of surveillance and RFID microchip technology. She is also a syndicated radio host, best-selling author, and the vice-president of marketing for Startpage.com, which calls itself the world’s most private search engine. She holds a doctorate in consumer education from Harvard University.