Compulsory microchipping on the agenda
PLANS TO be put forward by Labour and Conservative at the next election will include a move to make microchipping compulsory nationwide, in a bid to reduce the number of stray animals and help inundated dog rescues, both breed specific and others.
The plan would mean all dogs would be immediately traceable via their owner’s address and phone number, as well as plans for a national database which would hold details of all dogs in the country, including their breed, age and health. Owners who fail to comply could face a fine and possibly the right to keep their dog.
The new scheme would also be used to curb the trade in stolen dogs and to prevent the use of animals in anti-social or violent incidents.
The plans, to be unveiled at the next election, have been backed by animal charities, and in fact are already being successfully piloted by Wandsworth Council. The microchipping would be phased in gradually to provide enough time for owners to deal with the changes.
The latest figures from the Dogs Trust show that almost 108,000 stray dogs were found over the 12 months to March this year, an increase of 11 per cent, as the recession led to more animals being dumped or put down by their owners. It also found that almost a third of stray dogs had been returned to their owners with the help of microchips.
Debbie Matthews, daughter of TV legend Bruce Forsyth, had her Yorkshire terriers snatched from the back of her BMW while she went shopping, in a case which became very high profile at the time. The robbers were foiled after vets established their real identity, after they were sold, as they both had microchips beneath their skin.
Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative’s animal welfare spokesman, said the scheme needed to be cheap and simple to ensure owner’s complied with it. The MP for Romford said it would help rescues across the country becoming inundated with stray dogs while also helping identify irresponsible pet owners.
‘If a dog goes missing, whether it is stolen or gets lost it can be identified very quickly, he said. ‘If a dog is used to commit an offence or is used in a violent way the owner can be held responsible.’
Ian Cawsey, the vice chairman of the Labour Party, was said to have been asked by Gordon Brown to draw up some fresh animal welfare policies. He said the scheme, which would be at the heart of Labour’s animal welfare proposals, was vital to help keep track of animals.
Caroline Kisko told OUR DOGS: ‘The Kennel Club has maintained for many years that microchipping should be voluntary but at the same time we recognise how important chipping is in terms of reuniting dogs with their owners.’
Dog breeders and exhibitors had fairly mixed reactions to the latest news, some feeling it would be a good move. One lady told us: ‘It wont be foolproof, but if it’s compulsory, at least it would encourage owners to get a dog microchipped, (some may not even know chips exist) and ensure that a vet/shelter would scan thoroughly’.
Others feel that, much like the ill-fated idea of the dog licence and the registration of pitbulls, that whilst law abiding dog owners will have no problem with the idea, many people who are the most likely to fall foul will also be the most unlikely to actually participate in the plans. They are far more likely, as one person suggested, ‘just take themselves further underground, much like the less savoury pitbull owners did a few years ago!’
However, a few people feel that this is just a ploy by the parties to gain votes, and that the chances of it ever actually happening are unlikely. One commented. ‘I don't think it will be enforced and I'm not sure how effective it will be anyway. I can go on-line to alter details of my dogs’ chips - so can anyone else who wants to dump a dog, all they need to do is make up an address and dump it. It will still have a chip but no information.The only reason where it is of course beneficial is the reason mine are chipped, should they ever stray they can be scanned. But as vets don't scan to check details and can't pass on info even if they do find a dog bought in has a chip that doesn't match the owner presenting them even that isn't foolproof.’
Another said: ‘Compulsory chipping won't make owners care. Those owners who don't care already don't claim their dogs that are chipped - we have loads that are chipped and whose owners still don't claim them back. We rehome them and the owners go out and get another the following week. Owners who care chip their dogs (or should do) and reclaim them if they're picked up straying. If an owner loses a dog that isn't chipped and they think they'll face a fine if they come forward to reclaim it that's another reason they won't. You cannot legislate to force people to care.’
Send your opinion of this story below