Dog registration scheme for Scotland 'being considered'
By Nick Mays
The Scottish Parliament is to due to launch an inquiry into a compulsory dog registration/identification scheme for dogs, involving microchips and tattoos.
The inquiry will also consider setting up a national database containing the details of all registered dogs.
The inquiry will draw on evidence from animal welfare groups and the police, although no mention has been made of evidence being sought from dog enthusiast and the dog fancy.
The Scottish Executive consultation is based on a report by a committee studying the issue, the Dog Identification Group, which said the chief aim behind a permanent identification scheme, should be the welfare of the individual dog.
The group suggested that an identification scheme should use either microchip or tattoo and strive to cover 75% of all dogs in five years.
It backed calls for a database holding canine identification records and recommended that a public information campaign should be launched.
The report also stated that the scheme should be voluntary at first, but noted that consideration could be given to making it compulsory after five years.
The committee is now set to hold a brief inquiry into the issues raised by the report before giving its backing to the ideas.
If committee members vote to hold an inquiry, they will consider whether a voluntary scheme is appropriate and the feasibility of running a database.
If the inquiry gets the go-ahead, the committee is expected to begin taking evidence as early as April 3.
Scottish dog enthusiasts have reacted with surprise to the announcement, as there has been no indication that the Scottish Executive was even considering the matter. Even the Scottish Kennel Club was in the dark about the issue, as the Dog Identification Group had not - as yet - sought its advice and input.
A similar study was undertaken in England and Wales some months ago, which prompted a similar decision by the Westminster Parliament. The English and Welsh dog registration scheme will also be voluntary-based, but with a possible compulsory registration scheme after five years if the take-up rate amongst dog owners is too low.
The last time the issue of dog registration was raised in Scotland was over two years ago, when Liberal peer Sir David Steel told a meeting of Scottish Liberals that dog registration would be an ideal way of raising extra tax revenue for the Scottish Assembly.