“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” This quote about animal abuse is from Thomas Edison, an engineer known for his life changing innovations that continue to impact on our world today. Animal abuse is a long-debated problem, often causing the world’s population to split into two sides over the dispute. On one side, are those who say that humans are far superior to animals and other living beings who have been put here solely to feed or entertain us. On the other hand, there are those of us who recognise that these “inferior life forms” should have the same rights as us, and so they deserve the same treatment.
It is with the latter that I would have to side with, and so, I believe that animal abuse is a problem that urgently needs to be solved. In 2012, in New Zealand alone, there were nearly 14,000 animal abuse reports, but only 44 were taken to court. This is one of many reasons why I am here to propose a device that will change all of this for the better. This invention will be able to monitor and prevent animal abuse safely and securely, from anywhere.
I propose the creation of a multi-purpose device designed to ensure the safety of domestic animals. The device will be installed as a microchip and extension similar to that of a cochlear implant. The microchip, embedded in the animal’s skin, will connect to a tiny video camera hidden near where the dewlap is on a dog. Inside the pet’s body, the microchip will have a constant gauge on the pet’s corticotropin (fear hormone) levels. The microchip will be paired with an accelerometer to measure stress levels, along with the corticotropin.
When the accelerometer detects a certain amount of vibration, fear hormone levels are rising rapidly, or if those same levels surpass a certain threshold, the microchip will connect with the video camera and turn it on. The footage, along with the location of the pet) will be broadcast to a group of animal abuse experts in the near vicinity who will deem whether or not the rising corticotropin levels were due to animal abuse. If the experts decide that it was abuse, officials will be deployed to the location of the animal, and if needed, remove the animal from the offender. The microchip will benefit non-profit animal adoption centres such as the SPCA or Pet Rescue because a smaller amount of animals will end up in their care. The microchip can be used for other functions such as: Finding a lost or runaway pet with the location broadcast
A source of identification using pet and owners’ input details Monitoring pets’ physical activity while out/ on holiday Assistance with behaviour training through use of a ‘clicker’ system
But what would the device look like? Based off the more basic microchip that most dogs already have, this device would have a titanium shell, surrounded by bioglass- a formula often used as a coating over medical implantations. The device would have a small wire coming out of it, connected to a miniature camera that protrudes ever so slightly from the pet’s skin/fur.
In the past, there have been similar experiments, but with a slightly different intent. Shelter dogs are often put through a series of trials to find out whether they are family friendly or not, one of these tests and being based upon the dog’s fears. Sometimes these tests are as simple as dropping an empty aluminium water bowl to test the dog’s reaction, as canines tend to dislike metallic noises. A more recent study used accelerometers to measure stress levels in shelter dogs, along with other tests. The study found that accelerometers could become a useful tool to measure stress levels in animals, dogs in particular.
Using this technology on animals will dramatically lower the abuse and fatality rates worldwide. Nearly 1 million animals are abused or killed every year because of animal cruelty. Pets will be healthier and happier because of the implant. Pet owners will be able to relax in the knowledge that their pets will be safe from potential threats anytime, anywhere.
What are the challenges of this implant that need addressing? Since the microchip is connected to the surface camera, it requires a larger surgery to put the implant in. Also, since the connection is around the dewlap, the surgery would be quite close to the jugular vein, an important vein that takes blood from body organs, the brain and other places such as the neck and face. If punctured, the wound would mean almost instant death from blood loss.
A solution would be to create a GPS-like technology and insert it into the microchip. The “GPS” would connect to a monitor via Bluetooth, and broadcast a 3D computer-generated simulation that shows the correct site where the chip should be located, where important arteries and veins (such as the jugular) are, and also where the chip’s actual location is. This means that the chip will be easy to insert, and lower the risk of the vein being punctured.
Two other challenges would be the cost to create the technology/have the surgery performed, and that many of the said abusers would probably not purchase the device. To solve both of these problems, a new law and funding program would be put into action. The law would state that all registered domestic animals must have this device and the cost will be included in animal registration fees. Animals that are not registered may be seized by local authorities. Pet owners will enjoy the many benefits of this device including its ability to assist with training and monitoring while the homeowner is absent. Most importantly this device will ensure that all pets will be monitored and therefore, safe from abusers.
As humans, it is our duty to protect those who may not always be able to protect themselves, speak up for those without a voice of their own, and help those who can’t help themselves. Engineering has the ability to help us address and come up with a solution that will resolve an age-old problem. Only then can we move away from the early stages of human life and their animal cruelty, and step up the evolutionary ladder, all the while with happy and healthy animals by our side.