COCO, THE CHOCOLATE LABRADOR, FACED 6 MONTHS QUARANTINE AT A COST OF $7,500 DUE TO A FAILED MICROCHIP.
"Mr Cassidy from Quarantine Kennels...informed us that in his professional experience, it is not rare for microchips to fail and that although the microchip companies give a lifetime guarantee, he had found them to become unreliable after 5 years."
"The authorities told us that Coco would have to remain in France until the microchip was verified. If the microchip still can't be verified then she will have to have a new microchip fitted and stay in France for up to six months. It could cost thousands. It is a nightmare. She has had to undergo surgery and is recovering with strange people and in a strange place and she could be there for months." - Jane Birtwistle
- Coco's Owners, Richard and Jane Birtwistle
In 2007, Richard and Jane Birtwistle had their two-year-old chocolate Labrador Coco injected with an identity microchip, required under Europe's Pet Travel Scheme Law for travel outside the country. They took Coco to France, but when they tried to return to the UK, officials were unable to scan the microchip and refused to let Coco re-enter the country.
Coco was placed in quarantine, and her owners were told she could be held for up to six months, at a cost of £5,000 ($7,500 USD). In hopes that the malfunctioning chip could be identified, Coco's owners subjected her to major surgery (see photo below), which left her frightened and in pain. However, even after it was removed, the chip could still not be read.
This photo was taken by the French Kennels several days after her operation and clearly shows the huge scar that she has suffered as a result of her surgical procedure, carried out in accordance with the British government's current guidelines for failed microchips.
Coco was now left to recover from traumatic surgery alone, in a strange place, without her family. Coco's owners said, "The kennels reported that Coco was barking a lot and whimpering. This behaviour is completely out of character for her and concerned us greatly. We worried about the long term effects that this traumatic separation from her owners and finding herself in a strange environment could have upon her."
Fortunately, the media picked up the story, and Coco's sad plight was featured across the UK. A Member of the British Parliament took up the case, and Coco was finally allowed to go home.
Coco's owners give a detailed timeline of their ordeal on Bruce Forsyth's website.
Here are more articles detailing Coco's ordeal and eventual return: