Digital Angel Corporation, an advanced technology company in the field of rapid and accurate identification, location tracking, and condition monitoring of high-value assets, today announced that it is well-positioned to participate in the EU-mandated pet passport program slated for implementation on October 1, 2004.
Regulations issued by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on May 26, 2003, defining mandated identification techniques for dogs, cats and ferrets traveling into and between EU member countries, stipulate that for an eight-year transitional period animals shall be regarded as identified only if they bear either a clearly readable tattoo or an electronic identification system (transponder). After the transitional period only the electronic ID system will be acceptable under these regulations, which form an integral part of the new pet passport directive. As a result, although some citizens of EU member countries can now travel between some EU member states without passport control, as of October 1 their companion pets will require a passport bearing the animal’s microchip or tattoo number as well as records of vaccinations, tick treatments, clinical examinations and other data.
Digital Angel’s General Manager for the RFID International Division, Leo Ortenblad, commented, “The EU pet passport initiative has been driven by efforts over the past decade to prevent the spread of rabies throughout EU member states. Addressing an estimated 100 million population of companion dogs and cats in 30 countries in Europe, the EU regulations explicitly recognize the benefits of the radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchip as the only positive, permanent and unalterable form of animal identification available.”
Kevin Nieuwsma, President of the Company’s RFID Division, added, “We believe that by taking this step, the EU has indicated the direction the rest of the world will eventually take in the area of safe and secure identification of companion animals, as well as livestock.”
The Company noted that the EU regulations also require that scanners at all EU ports of entry must be capable of reading all microchips that are in compliance with certain International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards, which does not include all RFID chips currently on the market. All Digital Angel microchips, whether marketed in the US, Europe or elsewhere, currently meet those standards, the Company added.
As the original innovator, intellectual-property owner and world’s largest marketer of implantable microchip technology for the companion pet marketplace, Digital Angel has an established platform to participate in the EU pet passport program. Digital Angel distributes its pet identification products to veterinarians throughout the EU (which does not include the UK) through its alliance with Atlanta, GA-based Merial, one of the leading international animal healthcare companies. Merial is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. of the US and Aventis, based in Strasbourg, France. Digital Angel distributes its products to veterinarians in the UK through AnimalCare Ltd., a division of UK-based Genus plc. In February 2000, the UK ended its century-old practice of mandating a six-month quarantine for all companion pet animals entering the country, offering exemption from quarantine to any pets identified with an RFID chip and meeting certain other requirements, including vaccinations, worm and tick treatments and other diagnostic examinations.