Today marks the first anniversary since the microchipping law came in, but has it really made a difference?
On April 6th 2016 compulsory microchipping came into place, the law is as follows:
*All dogs over the age of eight weeks old must be microchipped.
*Your dog's details must be up to date — otherwise it does not comply. Dogs can be exempt on medical grounds if it is certified by your vet. An exemption can run out.
*If your dog is not chipped and this is picked up by the authorities, you may be given a notice to get your dog chipped with 21 days. Failure to do so could result in a £500 fine.
*If you get a new dog, the previous owner or breeder should already have chipped the dog. The chip will need updating with your details.
*It is still a legal requirement that your dog wears a collar and ID when out in public. It must include your name and address (house number and postcode is sufficient.).
There are many reasons that compulsory microchipping came into place but mainly to ensure if your dog is lost or goes missing, it is easier to reunite you with him, and also to fight against unethical breeders as it makes it a lot harder for them to operate. However, has this new law really made a difference? In 2016 a total of 92% of dogs were mircochipped an increase from 83% in 2015. RSPCA dog welfare expert, Sam Gaines, explains: “Compulsory microchipping was a move welcomed by the RSPCA ensuring lost, stolen or missing dogs can be reunited with their rightful owners more quickly which is obviously wonderful news."
“However, there are issues around people keeping their details updated and unfortunately, we are finding animals coming to our attention which are not microchipped. In some cases these are animals which have been abandoned but in others, owners are generally treating their dogs badly and microchipping hasn’t been considered. It is also possible that, due to issues around enforcement, some people believe that the likelihood of getting caught is very low so don’t get them chipped."
“While we welcome compulsory microchipping and it is undoubtedly helping reunite dogs and owners, compliance and enforcement issues surrounding the compulsory microchipping legislation remain."
“There are also many issues which compulsory microchipping does not address and that is one reason why the RSPCA maintains its view that dog licensing is the right way to go."
“A dog licensing scheme has the potential to generate money that could be used to help improve dog welfare and tackle the issues around irresponsible dog ownership."
“We have long called for a joined up strategy to manage social and animal problems associated with dog ownership, underpinned and funded by a new dog licence scheme. This would mean that dog owners would contribute to costs derived from dogs, funds which are currently lacking from central and local Government. It could fund resources for a whole host of issues including dog health and welfare, antisocial behaviour involving dogs, dog bite incidents, stray dogs, population issues and risks to human health.”
Schemes similar to this do already exist, the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw in Calgary, Canada requires that all cats and dogs are licensed with the revenue being used to deliver services such as dog safety, public awareness and education.
To find out more visit the RSPCA website.