Microchipping will soon be compulsory for all dog owners in England, following an announcement made by the Westminster Government that has been welcomed by Dogs Trust. The Welsh Government has also announced that microchipping will be compulsory for all dogs in Wales by 1st March 2015
Get your dog microchipped and have the assurance that should he become lost (or be stolen), he is more likely to be returned to you safe and sound.
Benefits of Microchipping
Microchipping also has a number of other welfare benefits, including:
- All puppies are traceable to their breeder thereby helping reduce the problem of puppy farming and lessening the incidence of infectious disease and inherited defects from which many of these dogs suffer
- Deterrent to dog theft
- Allows for rapid return, meaning that local authorities are able to emphasise to the dog owners concerned that straying is not acceptable, the intention being that this education will lessen the likelihood of a dog straying again and reinforce the responsibilities of the owners under the Animal Welfare Act 2006
- Easier identification and subsequent arrests of owners culpable of animal cruelty
- Enables veterinary surgeons to contact dog owners for emergency procedures
- Allows identification of dogs in properties in emergency situations so that dogs and owners can be moved and reunited more quickly
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Dogs Trust supporting compulsory microchipping?
Dogs Trust has set aside a substantial investment to ensure that every owner can have their dog chipped as we know that compulsory microchipping is the single most effective way to get a dog returned to its owner. Prevention is better and cheaper than cure. Much as we love the dogs in our care, we'd rather that they stay with their owners rather than coming to us.
There is still substantial need for our rehoming centres, but we want to use our funds and expertise to tackle the problem at both ends, save lives and reduce the need for rehoming services.
How much will all this cost?
Dogs Trust has set aside £6m towards microchipping all of the un-chipped dogs in England. However, we estimate that the cost of chipping half these dogs will total £3m (a cost that Dogs Trust will cover) and we are expecting that the support of other organisations offering free microchipping will cover the remaining cost to ensure that all un-chipped dogs in the England will be covered.
We are hoping that those who can afford to give a donation will help us recoup costs.
Projections suggest that compulsory microchipping can save the public purse between £20m and £22m.
Why three years?
Defra have set the 3 year target to ensure that everyone involved (owners, breeders, enforcement agencies) understand what is expected of them and will be able to plan ahead. We are working towards the April 2016 deadline, and hope this gives all parties involved more than enough time to comply.
Aren’t irresponsible owners just going to ignore the law?
Where a dog and their owner are picked up for acting irresponsibly or perhaps even dangerously, the dog will be scanned for a chip. If the dog does not have a chip, the owner will have the benefits explained to them and be given a short amount of time to comply with the microchipping law. If they do not, they will face a fine of up to £500. There will be three years before this becomes law comes into force, giving the public time to act.
Since 2010 Dogs Trust has been running a successful City Dogs outreach project in Greater London, working directly on the ground with young urban dog owners to promote responsible dog ownership by offering free microchipping, subsidised neutering and dog training. Through outreach, Dogs Trust staff are able to provide essential practical advice to young dog owners who lack the experience to train or care for their dogs responsibly. In 18 months we have successful microchipped over 2,200 dogs in greater London to young urban owners who wouldn’t necessarily seek out the means to get their dog chipped. We repeatedly find that these owners are very receptive to having their dogs chipped.
The City Dogs project was initially launched in Hackney in May 2010, a densely populated area of London with a high number of young dog owners. City Dogs has since expanded across Greater London.
We have also seen evidence through our work in Northern Ireland that microchipping is a considerably more attractive proposition than, for example, licensing. People can see the benefit to them – that their dog will be returned to them rather than being rehomed as a stray or potentially destroyed – and our microchipping campaigns have been very popular, compared to low compliance with the licence, which is seen as a tax on dog owners. We have microchipped 115,000 dogs in Northern Ireland in 18 months; that’s around a third of the local dog population.
Who will enforce this?
Local authorities, the police, dog wardens and vets will all have scanners (most do already). Any dog that is found straying or reported for dangerous behaviour can then be traced back to the owner. If the authorities come across a dog after 2016 that does not have a microchip the owner will be required to have it chipped urgently or face a fine.
Aren’t there problems with people not updating their details?
Registration is absolutely key as is the responsibility of the dog owner to ensure that contact details are kept up-to-date. The government’s package of measures includes the provision that if you do not change your details you will be breaking the law and risk being fined.
Anyone who sells on their pet dog to another person will need to ensure the details on the microchip are changed to reflect those of the new owners before sale, in the same way in which a car is transferred. If they do not ensure this, they could be liable for the dog’s actions.
Will the law apply throughout the UK?
The law will not cover Scotland and Wales; Northern Ireland already has compulsory microchipping (and licencing). However, our centres in Glasgow, West Calder, Ballymena and Bridgend have all offered free chipping by appointment since December 2011 and will continue to do so; they will also hold free microchipping weekends.
Microchipping: General Questions
What is a microchip?
A microchip (technically called a Radio Frequency Identification Device or RFID) is a small electronic device, which is the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner that energises the microchip using a radio signal.
How is the microchip implanted?
In the UK the microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades. The process is carried out by a suitably trained person. It is not carried out under anesthetic. Once implanted correctly the microchip is unlikely to fail and so provides lifelong permanent identification.
Is it going to hurt my pet?
Microchipping just feels like a small pinch or mild sting – akin to a minor injection. The dog does not feel the chip at all after it has been inserted.
How does the microchip stay in place?
Once the microchip has been inserted, the dog's body tissue surrounding the microchip attaches itself, preventing movement of the chip.
What do I need to do once my dog has been chipped?
The microchip number itself is meaningless. Owners need to register the microchip number as well as their details with an appropriate computerised database. Some chippers will register the number for the owner – Dogs Trust, for examples, registers all the dogs we chip. However, it is essential that the databases are kept up to date and that the owners themselves update their personal details where necessary, such as after a change of address.
Who can access the database?
A recognised PIN number/password should be provided before data can be released. PIN numbers are issued by microchip distributors and databases to authorised persons only. Those are local authority staff (usually dog wardens), veterinary practices and animal welfare charities.
How is the identification number read?
Microchips work when a scanner is passed over them. This is because the scanner produces low frequency radio waves that passively activate the microchip, allowing the unique number to be read.
Who retains scanners?
It is estimated that there are currently over 10,000 scanners in use throughout the UK. These can be found at most veterinary practices, Local Authorities and animal welfare groups. Local Authorities and animal welfare groups use scanners to check stray dogs to see if they have been microchipped. If the dog has been microchipped he can then be returned to the owner easily and quickly.
Where can I get my dog microchipped?
Most veterinary practices in the UK can microchip your dog, along with a growing number of Local Authorities and animal welfare groups.
How much will it cost?
Currently, you can expect to pay £20-£30 to have your dog microchipped at the vet.
Although microchipping will not be compulsory until 2016, in the meantime Dogs Trust has committed to ensuring that no dog owner will be left behind when the legislation is introduced. As such, we will offer free microchipping at our Centres across the UK and at various events throughout 2014.
It is important to Dogs Trust that all owners are given the opportunity to microchip their dog, regardless of cost. Although we have put money aside to offer free microchipping at our Centres, as a charity we would appreciate any donations that can help us with this scheme.
Dogs Trust microchips all dogs that come into our Rehoming Centres before they are rehomed.