On April 6, a new law came into force which requires all dogs in the UK aged eight weeks and over to be microchipped and for the chip to be registered to an approved database. The law has been introduced to help reunite owners with missing pets and to help track the owners of dogs that attack people or other animals. Dog owners failing to meet the new requirements face a fine of up to £500.
Some animal charities and rehoming centres offer free microchipping
A microchip is a tiny electronic device which has a unique identification number that can be read by a scanner. The chip is implanted into an animal's skin between the shoulder blades by a trained person. Microchipping is readily available across the UK in vets' surgeries and animal-rescue centres. The procedure costs around £15 but some animal charities and rehoming centres offer a free service.
The new microchipping law requires details of all dogs to be recorded on a DEFRA-approved database, including the name and address details of the owner. Any changes - including to the owner’s phone number, address or surname, or a change in the ownership of the dog - must be notified to the database responsible for the dog’s registration. Failure to keep the registered details up to date may result in a fine.
Where a dog is transferred to a new keeper, the new keeper must register their contact details on an approved microchip database – unless this has already been done by the previous owner.
Dog owners who ignore the new legislation and fail to get their dog chipped or to maintain their ownership details will be served a notice. They will then have 21 days to comply, or else receive in a fine of up to £500.
According to statistics from the Kennel Club, over 100,000 dogs are lost, stolen or stray each year. Sadly, around 6,000 of these dogs are put to sleep because their owner cannot be traced.
However, insurer Gocompare.com’s own customer data showed that a fifth of owners looking to insure their dog over the last year were unsure if their animal was chipped and a further 19 per cent indicated that they weren't.
Of the top 20 dog breeds, English Springer Spaniels and Golden Retrievers were the most likely to be chipped, with just over 70 per cent of owners of these breeds declaring that they were. However, just 45 per cent of Pug owners said their dogs had been microchipped, making them the least chipped breed of the top 20 most popular dogs, including all mongrels.
"Encouraging owners to get their dogs microchipped is a very positive step. Not only will it help improve the chances of lost dogs being returned to their owners, it could also reduce the number of dogs being stolen and this may lead to lower pet insurance premiums if there are fewer claims," says Ben Wilson at GoCompare.com.
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