When Canadians are out shoveling snow or walking the dog in freezing rain, we’re often day dreaming about palm trees and warm ocean breezes just to get us through our long, grey winters.
But our idyllic vision of flip flops and white sandy beaches, does not include a skinny dog scrounging for food on that beach or a street dog with bald patches wandering outside our sunshine-filled Airbnb. For our nation of dog-lovers, the stark reality for dogs in tropical destinations and developing countries can be heart-breaking.
While not a common sight in most of Canada, “free-range” dogs are considered normal in places where we like to vacation. The many dogs living on beaches or on the streets of villages or cities in in the developing world may be pets that are allowed to roam, but they are more likely to be former pets that have been abandoned, or completely feral animals.
Within the global dog population of about 900 million, only around 20 per cent are estimated to have an owner. The other 80 per cent are largely strays and nameless feral animals with an unknown story and an even more unknowable future.
A dog-loving Canadian tech company is hoping to change that.
Based in Victoria, GoChip Animal Technology believes every dog, including feral and stray dogs, deserves an identity. And it’s this digital identity that will help communities around the world keep track of individual animals and help mitigate the spread of disease.
GoChip’s innovative hardware and digital ID software platform manage the large amount of data that is necessary to manage large dog populations that will, in turn, help keep communities safe and disease-free. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that animal and human health are closely linked.
Historically, it has been a challenge to keep track of animals because traditional paper-based systems are labour-intensive and inefficient. GoChip wants to bring disease prevention and animal management into today’s digital world.
Its animal identification technology, including a smart-phone readable chip and software platform, are tools that track individual animals and store information including names, identification numbers, vaccinations, spay and neuter info and anything else that is part of an individual animal’s story.
Now partnering with animal welfare organizations around the world, GoChip recently started a rabies-prevention pilot program in Bali, Indonesia and will start another in Goa, India this summer.
In India, GoChip has partnered with the global animal nonprofit, Worldwide Veterinary Service, and the NGO, Mission Rabies. Goa was the only state in India that had gained “rabies-controlled” status, but during the pandemic, feral dogs moved across state borders and reintroduced rabies into the state. Two of GoChip’s innovations are now being deployed to help. GoNanos are chips in ear tags or collars that store each dog’s information while GoBeacons are powerful scanners that can be installed in trees to read the data on the tags to track vaccination status and help keep Goa rabies-free.
In Bali, GoChip is working with the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) and local governments to tag and track 500,000 feral dogs. With no permanent IDs, it has been impossible to keep accurate vaccination records and, tragically, authorities have had to resort to culling animals to stop the spread of rabies and protect communities. This method has proven ineffective, however, and GoChip is now providing a cutting-edge digital solution to better protect communities while helping to save the lives of many healthy dogs.
“At Bali Animal Welfare Association, we envision a future where all dogs in Bali are healthy and we can better manage and sustain our dog populations,” says Janice Girardi, founder of BAWA.
“By giving each dog a digital identity, GoChip’s technology will enable us to effectively track and manage vital medical data like vaccinations and spay and neuter information. We look forward to partnering with GoChip as we work towards a better future for the animals of Bali.”
Dan Fine says
We are a Vancouver-based non-profit helping sterilize, vaccinate and microchip dogs/cats left behind in the war in Ukraine. Would love to find out more and perhaps collaborate.