The 2016 Dog Microchipping Legislation
What the new Dog Microchipping law will mean to all those of us who keep dogs
From 6 April 2016 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales will be legally required to be microchipped and their details registered on one of the authorised databases such as Petlog. Northern Ireland has already introduced this measure.
The idea behind this move, which has been campaigned for by numerous animal pressure groups working collectively as the Microchipping Alliance, a group which includes the British Veterinary Association, the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, is to encourage all dog owners to take responsibility for keeping their pet.
How the system will work
Under the law you are obliged to keep your details up to date on the database. Police and local authority employees will be issued with microchip reader scanners so that instant enforcement of the law can be carried out. A time window will be allowed for the owner to get the chipping done if their pet is caught without a chip. After which a £500 fine for failing to comply will be issued. Full details of the change to the law will emerge over the next few months.
If you sell or otherwise pass the dog on, you as the previous keeper are required to register the new keeper (the wording used is ‘keeper’ rather than ‘owner’ with regard to microchips).
Similarly if our your dog dies, you must inform the database that holds your pet’s details.
Puppies must be chipped at their second set of vaccinations – and around the time they are weaned - at 8 plus weeks.
Why is there seen to be a need for this enforcement?
The majority of owners are naturally very caring and responsible about their dog, how they treat it and its behaviour in society. The dogs kept by such owners are often microchipped already, in order that they can be more easily reunited in the event of the dog being lost.
Unfortunately some people who keep dogs very clearly are not responsible enough to have the care of a living creature in their hands. For one reason or another, neglect, abandonment and abuse of animals is common place, as is the casual breeding of dogs as an ‘easy earner’ from breading puppies in unsuitable conditions in order to earn a few pounds selling them down the pub, to full scale puppy farming businesses. One of the intentions of the legislation is that dogs coming from puppy farms and other unregulated animal breeding will also be traceable under the law.
Dogs are stolen quite frequently and it is hoped that microchipping will help in ownership disputes and quicken the process of reuniting those dogs with their real owners.
With microchipping, keepers and their dogs will have an official relationship, rather as they did under the old dog licence. Additionally, the modern technology of microchipping will not only help lost dogs be re-united with their families, it will also connect liable human beings to abused animals. Mistreatment of animals will still happen even if dogs are micrcochipped, but now there will be some redress against the perpetrator on behalf of society and – equally importantly - on behalf of the dog.
Why won’t this stamp out problems relating to dog welfare?
Those keepers of dogs who just won’t bother
Unfortunately, of course, many people of the type who already neglect and mistreat their animals and who let them run wild will simply side-step the law either deliberately or from shear inertia. At least with more legal clout on their side, those who work in animal welfare and law enforcement can keep such people firmly on the radar and there will be a further legal force to make these keepers take responsibility for the poor creatures that they keep.
Those keepers who don’t keep their records up to date
Even if everyone got their dogs chipped, microchipping is also only as efficient as the people who use it. Shockingly the National Dog Warden Association advises that around 40% of dogs it deals with that are already chipped have missing or inaccurate information. People must be encouraged and reminded to keep their details up to date to give this law some force to do what it is intended for.
So this is not a cure all and it will not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction in encouraging all of us as a society to care for our dogs correctly and responsibly.
What you will need to do
To get ready for 2016 if you have not already had your pet microchipped you can easily get this done by your vet and many organisations (Dogs Trust for example) are offering free or subsidised microchipping.
Cats and micro-chipping
Of course cats and other animals that are large enough to take the chip can be microchipped too, in case they get lost or stolen, and this is recommended by welfare charities. There will though be no legal obligation to have your cat - or rabbit or guinea pig - microchipped.
You may also want to see the following on the pet owners website.
Microchipping - The Facts About Microchipping Your Pet
When Your Pet Goes Missing
Dog Theft - Is Your Dog At Risk?
Going Abroad With Your Pet
What To Do When Your Pet Dies - Practical Matters
See also our directory of microchippers local to you, throughout the UK.