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Dog theft – vets urged to scan dogs

THE PRESSURE is mounting on Vets to routinely scan dogs for microchips in the fight against dog theft.

Several organisations including the leading missing dog registries Doglost and Missing Pets Bureau, together with the anti-dog theft campaign group Dog Theft Action and the Kennel Club are calling for vets to carry out the procedure as a matter of course each time a ‘new’ dog is brought to them for treatment.

If the dog is microchipped and the details do not tally with those given by the owner, then, if the vet has reasonable suspicions that the dog is not the legal property of the owner, they should advise the police and the Petlog microchip registry accordingly. The same system would also apply to ear tattoos, whereby the police and National Dog Tattoo Register should be informed.

Obviously there are quite innocent reasons why a dog’s microchip details do not tally, such as a change of address or the dog simply being sold or gifted to a new owner, but anyone with nothing to hide should be able to provide evidence of their ownership of the dog.

Candy King of Doglost launched the ‘Dolly’s Directive’ campaign earlier this year in the memory of her own Jack Russell Dolly who was stolen and has never been recovered, despite being permanently identified.

Candy told OUR DOGS: ‘Dolly's Directive asks for it to be compulsory for all organisations that come into contact with a dog, not just vets, to have to check for ALL forms of permanent i.d. - not just the microchip - which obviously covers a larger issue than just getting vets to scan.

‘Many ordinary people who have been in contact with me have persuaded their vets to take up Dolly's Directive and check new dogs to surgery for permanent i.d. so we are starting from the ground up so to speak, rather than waiting for it to come from the top. This is all very promising and we are quietly getting Dolly's Directive in to place. Of course we would like it to be existing dogs as well as there are many permanently identified pets that have been missing for years and a large number of them are out there somewhere. We even have dog groomers taking Dolly's Directive up and checking their clients for permanent i.d.

‘My MP continues to support Dolly's Directive and is making as many people in Parliament aware of Dolly's Directive as possible.’

Dolly's Directive has the support as of Doglost, Duncan Green, Director General of Battersea and Chairman of the Association of Dogs and Cats homes, The National Dog Tattoo Register, Lurcher Search, Lurcher Link, Petsearch UK, Greyhound Gap and many other breed rescues and rescue centres are on board as well.

Meanwhile, Debbie Matthews, daughter of the popular entertainer Bruce Forsyth has launched a similar campaign front to call upon vets to be vigilant and to scan dogs as a matter of routine.

Debbie Matthews had her two dogs, Widget and Gizmo, stolen from her car in May this year. It was only because of an appeal on GMTV that she got both dogs back. Debbie has now launched a website called ‘Vets Get Scanning’.

An Open Letter which supporters can download from the website to send to vets says:

‘The publicity that surrounded Bruce and his family has raised awareness to all pet owners but has exposed the need for vets to start scanning all dogs in their practices. The Trauma that the family went through and the realisation that if it was not for the celebrity of Bruce Forsyth, they would not have got their dog's home and this is the reason why they want to help other dog owners, by starting this appeal to all Vets.’

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has previously pointed out that it cannot compel vets to scan dogs, and has also cited the Data Protection Act as a potential barrier to passing on confidential information. However, the RCVS has recently stated that: ‘Individual vets are free to set their own policies on microchip scanning and some many choose to make routine checks’.

After speaking with Debbie Matthews, has supported her campaign, saying: ‘I think a system where the receptionists scan every dog coming into the surgery is excellent. We have an identichip reader on the reception desk. This also gets other people waiting in reception to ask what you are doing and then they get their pets chipped’.

The issue of vets carrying out routine scanning was one of many subjects discussed at a recent meeting between the Kennel Club and the RCVS.

Phil Buckley of the Kennel Club confirmed that the KC had met with the RCVS in July to discuss compulsory scanning by vets and a joint press announcement will be made soon with regard to the outcome of this meeting.

lDetails of Dolly’s Directive Campaign can be found on the Doglost UK website: www.doglost.co.uk

Debbie Matthew’s Vets Get Scanning appeal website: http://www.vetsgetscanning.co.uk/