State Examining Boards
Implantation of microchips in animals for identification purposes does not constitute the practice of veterinary medicine.
You have asked this office for an official opinion on the question of whether the implantation of microchips in animals for identification purposes constitutes an act which can only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. Based on the information which you provided, it is my understanding that a microchip encased in biocompatible material can be inserted under the skin or into the muscle tissue of an animal by means of a device similar to a syringe. The chip, which is a passive transponder, emits a code when the animal is scanned. That code can be used to identify the animal and its owner.
Only a licensed veterinarian may lawfully practice veterinary medicine. O.C.G.A. § 43-50-33. To practice veterinary medicine means to "diagnose, treat, correct, change, relieve, or prevent animal disease, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical or mental conditions." O.C.G.A. § 43-50-3(5)(A); see 1962 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 393.
If a microchip is implanted solely for the purpose of identification of an animal, then such a procedure would not constitute the practice of veterinary medicine since it does not involve the diagnosis or treatment of an animal disease, defect, or injury. Since the procedure is not the practice of veterinary medicine, it may be performed by a person not licensed as a veterinarian.
For the reasons stated above, it is my official opinion that the implantation of microchips in animals solely for identification purposes does not constitute the practice of veterinary medicine which may be performed only by a licensed veterinarian.
THOMAS K. BOND
Assistant Attorney General