It’s a sad fact that many thousands of pets go missing each year in the UK. Cats often go wandering, dog thefts are sadly on the rise and even bunnies are prone to ‘hopping it’!
The law is changing. From the 6th of April 2016 – ALL domestic dogs must be microchipped. It’s also a good idea to get cats and rabbits microchipped, but not compulsory.
For dog owners, it’s a simple two step process:
1) get your dog microchipped at your local vet
2) Register their microchip on a database such as Petlog
All dogs from 8 weeks of age must be microchipped. If your dog is found not to be microchipped or your details are not registered on an approved database, then it will be considered as not complying with the regulations and a notice may be served. If the keeper does not microchip their dogs within 21 days of the served notice, then you will be liable to pay a fine of £500. Better to be safe than sorry!
The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2014 will be enforced by your local authorities, police and community support officers and any other person which the Secretary of State may authorise to act as an enforcer of the regulations.
Getting your dog microchipped is already common practice and most dog owners are already well aware of the benefits. Principally, the microchip will help ensure you are quickly reunited, should the worst happen and your dog gets lost or stolen. You also need to microchip your pet if you are planning to take it abroad.
Lets myth-bust some common questions:
Myth 1: I’m not planning to take my dog abroad, so that means he does not need a microchip.
A: True… for now! But from April 6th 2016 it will be compulsory for all dogs in the UK to be microchipped and for owners to maintain up to date contact details on the microchip database. For more information on the change in the law, click here to read more from BBC News.
Myth 2: My dog’s collar has my contact details engraved on it, and it’s really simple to get my cat to wear a collar with my address on it – surely that’s enough?
A: Although collars are useful, they can get caught, fall off, break, or be removed if your pet is stolen. Even if your pet is microchipped, a collar with ID is a vital second line of defence against your pet going missing for long, and it is still the law that a dog has to wear one.
Myth 3: Microchipping is complicated.
A: Microchipping your pet is very easy, similar to getting an injection, and takes only a few minutes. A needle is used to put the microchip under the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The vet or nurse will take your contact details and help you to put them into a national database, so you can be reunited with your pet quickly should they get lost.
Myth 4: Microchipping will hurt my pet.
A: It may feel a little uncomfortable, but it is very quick. Most pets experience little or no pain, and some don’t even feel it being implanted at all.
Myth 5: Microchipping is like putting a tracking device inside my cat or dog.
A: A microchip is not the same as a GPS tracking device. It will only help if your pet is taken to an animal shelter or vet to be scanned if it gets lost. Once the chip is scanned, the vet will be able to use it to find your details on a national database.
Myth 6: Microchipping is expensive.
Myth 7: Microchipping will help to prevent stray animals from being destroyed.
A: True. Blue Cross estimate that over 100,000 dogs were picked up as strays in 2011 alone, and less than half of these were able to be returned to their owners. The numbers for cats are more difficult to estimate, but are likely to be significant. Microchipping would have enabled the majority of these to be returned home, rather than be destroyed or suffer a long stay in a crowded rescue centre before being rehomed.
An added advantage to microchipping your pet is that you can then take advantage of some of the many ‘personalised’ products available for cats and dogs, such as microchip cat flaps and pet doors, and the SureFeed microchip pet feeder (pictured). These products scan the pet’s microchip and only allow access to pets with microchips that are recognised, solving the problem of stray cats entering your house, or cats stealing each others’ food.
Top picture credit: Dave Parker, via Flickr