Cape Town 121022. The SPCA confiscated 26 dogs today after surveiling smugglers over a period of three weeks. They photographed the dogs and scanned them for microchip tags (for ID purposes), outside the Diep Rivier police station. Reporter:Kieran Legg. Pic : Jason Boud

Cape Town -

Thousands of Back Home Biotec microchips – used for tracking pets – have been recalled after a “functionality issue” was detected with some of the microchips issued since June 2010.

Harry Edwards, Companion Animal Range manager at Virbac SA, the local distributors of the microchips, said the problem was detected in February this year and that during a trial in Europe it was decided that there should be a worldwide recall of the product.

He said that this particular batch – with the prefix 9000880 and the prefix 9000088 up to 900008800259208 – of microchips were not readable by scanners.

“We don’t know exactly what the problem is, it’s an international problem… it seems that moisture was getting into the chips. But we do not know which ones are faulty, that is why they have all been recalled,” Edwards said on Tuesday.

He said that local pet owners who had bought their microchips within the specified period had already been notified to take their pets to their vets to have the microchips replaced for free.

He said the microchips cost between R150 and R300 depending on the vet and that it was not yet possible to determine how many had been recalled in South Africa as people were still being encouraged to bring in their pets.

In a media statement sent shortly after the recall, Virbac said: “[We have] already taken steps to improve the design of the chips, and adjust the manufacturing process to enhance the technology in the microchip itself. Therefore the company is confident that all Back Home chips supplied from April 2012 onwards will be unaffected by this issue.”

Banie Penzhorn, managing director of the SA Veterinary Association, said the association was aware of the recall and that the company had communicated directly with clients. Penzhorn said the faulty microchips would not harm pets.

“Microchip implants are well tolerated by animals. Malfunctioning of the microchip itself will not be detrimental to the health of the animal,” he said.

Cape Argus