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Council suggests microchipping for tenants’ dogs

Wandsworth Borough Council is planning to introduce complusory micro-chipping for all council tenants in a bid to deal with lost dogs and to combat the increasing incidences of dog fighting in the area.

The council’s Mark Callis told Our Dogs that the feedback from tenants, who are ‘mostly very responsible pet lovers’ suggests that most are in favour of this move. The micro-chipping will be free for council tenants, and private residents can also get their pets micro-chipped for a reduced rate. The council does not plan to introduce this scheme on a borough wide basis, as it has no control over private residents, although they can control council tenants through their tenancy agreements.

It has been reported that if tenants do not get their dogs micro-chipped they will face eviction from their homes, however Mr Callis said that tenants refusing to micro-chip their pets will not face immediate eviction, as the Council will give tenants time to get their pet micro-chipped, and if they refuse they will go to court as they are breaking tenancy rules. At court the judge may decide that an interim order may be imposed, which means the tenant will lose the right to buy their home, lose the right to be transferred to a new house and, if made homeless for any reason, will not have the automatic right to accommodation.

Our Dogs asked Mr Callis if this might reinforce the stereotype that council tenants are less responsible owners. Mr Callis was surprised that people might think this and stressed that the majority of council tenants in the borough are decent law abiding people, who love their dogs and care for their health and welfare. He added that it is only those who are involved in anti-social behaviour that will resist getting their dogs micro-chipped. He said it would allow the council to keep a check on these people and the welfare of their dogs.

Quick and simple

When asked if tenants could opt for tattoo or DNA registration instead, Mr Callis said that the chip reader makes returning a lost dog a quick and simple measure, but as tattoos often cannot be read easily it makes the job harder, especially if dealing with a frightened dog who is fear aggressive, and DNA registration would be too costly as the council have been advised that it can only be done in America and would cost hundreds of pounds, with DNA results taking several weeks to come through. Unfortunately the council does not have holding kennels so DNA registration cannot be checked quickly enough for them to use this method of ID. When it was pointed out the DNA sent to America is usually for health purposes and that a registration DNA is much quicker and certainly a lot cheaper, he told us that he was not aware of this, but even if it only took two or three days to be returned it still is not long enough, and the policy would be to put the dog into a rescue kennel to let it take its chances, possibly being re-homed, before it was reunited with its owner.

Asked if the Council was aware that many dog owners worry about veterinary reports that micro-chips can cause cancer in some animals he said that this had been investigated with the help of the micro-chip manufacturers, PetLog and Microchipping Advisory Group (whose members include the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust), who have told the council that there is no conclusive evidence that micro-chips do cause cancers in dogs. It had been shown in cats but this was down to the fact that all injections in cats were given in the neck.

The RSPCA and Clarissa Baldwin of the Dogs Trust have welcomed this move by the council, saying it was a step forwards in animal welfare. The Metropolitan Police have said that, as they are concerned at the rise in dog attacks, that this move by the council will help reduce incidences of attacks and dog fighting.

Mr Chris Laurence of the Dogs Trust told Our Dogs “MAG has not discussed the issue of compulsory microchipping for Wandsworth tenants. It is difficult to see why any owner should object to free microchipping for their dog and, obviously, MAG would like to see all dogs chipped. Dogs Trust has severe reservations about the fairly draconian measures being introduced. While we actively encourage microchipping we do not consider that it should be used as an enforcement tool in such a manner. What is required is proper enforcement of existing legislation on responsible ownership and dog fighting by the local authority. Microchipping alone will have no effect on reducing fouling or fighting”.