PAWS - Show Me The Money!
People have emailed me over the past several months ask when I will write about PAWS. Just where do I stand? Well that time, ladies and gentlemen, has arrived, so listen up, all you dog - and cat people - cause here it is..........
The PAWS bill, cleverly spun as the "puppy mill bill" (after all - who could oppose that?) , positioned by Santorum to protect pets, has greatly divided the purebred dog community, and other breeder groups as well. Well I say it's got little to do with pets and more to do with moolah.
Why Is This Man Smiling?
So let's get something straight right now. No one in Washington, DC does anything without a self-serving motivation. No politician supports or opposes legislation without motivation. Rick Santorum is no exception.
In Washington, that motivation is usually distilled down to just two things. Votes and money. Or money and votes.
And as for the AKC, HSUS and PETA - the three key nonprofit players supporting the PAWS bill? Are they without motivation in their support of PAWS? Or are they selfless in their support?
Well maybe it just boils down to money. After all, even nonprofits need to earn money to stay in business - they all need revenue - and really the only difference between them and Corporate America is their tax status.
Next - ask yourself this..........why would such organizations - complete polar opposites (and almost sworn enemies) like the AKC, PETA and HSUS - line up together behind PAWS?
So ask yourself this........ Do you really think PAWS is about keeping pets safe? Or saving the public from unscrupulous pet importers? Or shielding the pet-buying public from unscrupulous puppy mills?
Do you think the AKC and PETA and the HSUS have now found a common cause - are they now sharing the love? Do they love Rick Santorum. Does he love them back?
I'll tell you what kind of love they'll be sharing - the green kind. It's called money.
Fuggetaboutit - there's ONLY ONE question that truly matters:
Will the PAWS bill further endanger our freedom, our privacy, our constitutional rights?
And IMHO - PAWS comes down to this..............Money, microchips and political power.
Show me the money! Better yet - I'll show you.
There's Gold In Them There Chips
And let's say that we want to speed up the sales process for RFID microchips - after all - there's a pretty big untapped market out there. Just how big is that market & how much money can be made with microchips?
There are close to 73.9 million pet dogs and 90.5 million cats in the USA alone, according to the APPMA - the American Pet Products Manufacturer's Association. And according to Applied Digital Technologies site - about 1 million pets are "protected" with their products.
That leaves about 163 million pets that have not yet been microchipped. And that, dear readers, translates to a HUGE UNTAPPED market $$$$$$$$$ - just ripe for the picking.
OK - raise your hand if you like math! Just for fun - let's do the math - and let's assume an average retail price of $35 per chip implantation procedure. Ready?
163,000,000 pets x $35 = $5,705,000,000.
And while we must point out that the AKC does not directly market the HomeAgain Chip.
"As of February 3, 2005, the enrollment form in the HomeAgain® microchip packaging no longer is an AKC CAR enrollment form. Consumers now have a choice to enroll with the nation's largest non-profit recovery service provider, AKC CAR, or with other less experienced, "for-profit" recovery services."
And at $12.50 a pop - that ain't chicken feed. But is that because the USDA's National Animal Identification System as becoming a MANDATORY program but allowing privatization of the data?
The HomeAgain chip - now marketed by Schering Plough Animal Health, is made by Digital Angel, an Applied Technology Solutions company.
While I'm on the subject of Money Markets, what is one of the most interesting items on the AKC site about the Third Annual AKC Lobby Day? Here's an excerpt:
Sessions included in-depth information about the federal legislative process, tips for effectively lobbying a Member of Congress, and substantial issue briefings on three key agenda items: strengthening enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act through support of PAWS, encouraging open access to microchip technology for animal identification, and assuring access to air transport for dogs and those traveling with their animals.
All three of the AKC Lobby Day agenda items lead to microchips. Has the AKC has become a corporate shill for Digital Angel? Or is controlling the data more important.
Now - back to the deal - if I were Digital Angel/Applied Digital Technologies - the first thing I would do would be to identify the largest channels for distribution- meaning sales - in the US.
If we were to look at the U.S. dog or cat market for microchips, first we would need to find out who the biggest players are, and get them on our side.
Can you guess, boys and girls - who those players are? That's right. That would be the AKC, PETA and HSUS - because they each have the largest constituencies or access to the data of pet owners in the U.S.
How To Become A Government Contractor In One Easy Step
Next - I would do what any red-blooded American corporation does when it wants to drive sales in a really big way.
- One - sell to the government and
- Two - ensure that every pet in the country has a chip in it.
In other words - make my product MANDATORY.
First - whatcha gotta do is hire up a really big government heavyweight for a spokesperson. Then make sure t0 use that former government employee to help sell back into the government. Works for Lockheed Martin every time and it sure worked for the smoke detector manufacturers.
Digital Angel's Hired Heavyweight Hand
That's why Digital Angel (Applied Digital Solutions) named Tommy Thompson - former Bush Cabinet Member & Secretary of Health & Human Services onto its Board Of Directors.
What's worrisome to many and has raised privacy concerns from medical and constitutional privacy experts - is that Digital Angel has plans - big plans - iincluding a mandatory database to track all livestock in the country.
Do you think it would be a huge leap to track all pets & pet owners in the US? It's exactly what Gordon Stull, DVM wants - remember he's the guy that wants the country's first database in New Jersey - you know to deal with our "pet overpopulation" problem.
Privacy And The Constitution Are Overrated?
But wait - there's more. Tommy Thompson, Digital Angel's media darling, was interviewed on CBS Marketwatch in July. And boy did Tommy have some very interesting things to say about the use of microchips -in pets and in humans, like,
"And you also, of course, have animals all over the country that have chips in them that can determine, you know, when a dog or a cat or another animal has to go in for a physical or medical or medicine or any kinds of vaccines. So it is really a coming thing."
"with a chip in your arm that is placed there instantaneously, and is going to be able to help you secure your medical records which will be able to allow you to, if you have an accident or a serious illness, be able to get immediate care."
The (Business) Plan
Digital Angel/Applied Digital Solution's goal is to have everything, every creature and every person on the planet microchipped. Talked about global markets.
BTW - did I mention that those microchips are RFID chips? That's radio frequency indentification. Readable by scanners. Trackable by satellite.
Want more information about RFID technology? Just give it a Google.
Nuthin' Says Luvin' Like A Microchip
Now - we had posed the question what' could make AKC, PETA & HSUS all line up behind PAWS?
The Humane Society of the U.S. recently formed the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families to urge microchip manufacturers and distributors for a solution. Joining the HSUS are AAHA, ASPCA, American Humane Association, AVMA, American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, AKC Companion Animal Recovery, Society of Animal Welfare Administrators and other major U.S. animal shelters and humane societies.
A newly formed coalition (Fall 2004) to urge the standardization of chips, scanners, etc. in the name of reuniting lost pets. Who wouldn't want that?
But is there another reason behind this group? Check out http://www.readallchips.com/en_US/data_root/readallchips/ which, interestingly enough, is a P & G site - the makers of IAMS and one of the biggest players in RFID technology. See the P & G link at the bottom of the page :-)
It's the Data, Stupid - The Microchip Aftermarket
OK - so let's say all the pets in the land have been microchipped - 163 million of them. Now what?
Microchips are the means to COLLECT THE DATA, and in the case of RFID technology, TRACK the asset (in this case your dog or cat).
Because once your pet has been chipped, now you need to register them in a database, right? And just like the AKC's CAR program - it'll cost you, as in the case of the AKC - $12.50.
That' means the owners of 163 million pets are now in database somewhere. A database owned by the AKC? Or how about PETA or even HSUS?
And just who would have access to that database? Marketers? The government? Insurers?
As they say - he who CONTROLS THE DATA - wins.
Why PAWS, and Why Now?
So, dear readers, at the end of the day, is PAWS just setting the stage for more government control over our daily lives - and perhaps even in ways that we have yet to imagine?
Does the PAWS Bill ensure that domestic pets will roll up under the USDA's National Animal Identification System - aka NAIS? Is the strategic plan for NAIS - to effectively combat and manage foreign animal diseases by way of RFID tagging and tracking - is this the core reason for the AKC's supporting argument for PAWS of battling the (manufactured many say) foreign puppy importation crisis?
PAWS This, Baby
So while everyone out there is debating PAWS - think about this:
- If PAWS passes - how will it be enforced - and who will be responsible for enforcement?
- If PAWS passes - will technologies like microchips be required to ensure compliance?
- If PAWS passes AND microchips become MANDATORY - who will control the market?
- If PAWS passes AND microchips become MANDATORY - who will control the data?
- If PAWS passes AND microchips become MANDATORY - where are the privacy protections?
- If PAWS passes - who will make lots of money?
Can You Feel The Love?
Oh- and who or what will just LOVE a mandatory microchips and a mandatory database?
- Will the US government LOVE mandatory microchips because enforcement of PAWS will be easy?
- Will the members of the USDA Subcomittee on Research, Nutrition and General Legislation wield more power since they may control government contractors that manage the PAWS implementation and enforcement?
- Will the AKC, PETA & HSUS have a role (and revenue) as a result of their support for PAWS?
- Will animal rights groups LOVE mandatory microchips because the mandatory database will capture the reproductive status of every pet in the land?
- Will the AKC LOVE mandatory microchips because it will feed money into their AKC CAR registry program (read that as a database)?
- Will local and state governments LOVE mandatory microchips because it will ensure 100% compliance with licenses - because pet owners can't get a license without a microchip?
- Will local and state governments and AR groups LOVE microchips because pet owners can't get a mandatory dog license unless their pet is spayed or neutered?
- Will the insurance industry LOVE mandatory microchips because they'll be able to ID which pet owners own which breed of dogs?
- Will marketers like P&G - makers of IAMS (and big investors in RFID technology) LOVE mandatory microchips because they'll have access to the databases? (They will if it's public information collected by local, state or federal governments)
- Will the American Veterinary Medical Asociation LOVE mandatory microchips because it means a steady stream of revenue for members?
- Does the government LOVE mandatory microchips and animal tracking because it provides a precursor experience to human microchipping programs, and allows time for public acceptance of such a program?
Why - there's just so much LOVE here I don't know if I can stand it.