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Microchipping – a new legal requirement for dogs!
11 March 2016
Until now, microchipping has been advisable although not an essential part of dog (and other pet) ownership; a cheap and easy means of ensuring that should your dog go missing, you could be quickly reunited. Around 58% of dogs in England are currently chipped.
However changes to the law, which come into effect on 6th April 2016, will mean that microchipping dogs becomes a legal requirement. The aim is to reduce the burden of stray dogs on local councils and animal charities, currently estimated at around £33m per year. Compulsory microchipping will also make the theft of dogs more problematic as identifying them will be easier.
Under the terms of the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 all dogs over the age of eight weeks, which are not certified working dogs, will have to be microchipped. In many cases this means that breeders will need to ensure that it is done before pups go to their new homes. Only in exceptional circumstances will vets be able to certify that a dog is medically unfit to be chipped. Owners of dogs who do not comply with the new regulations can be fined up to £500.
Microchipping involves the implantation of a small identity chip, about the size of a grain of rice, under the skin between a dog’s shoulder blades. This is done using a sterile needle and does not require an anaesthetic. Identity chips are coated in a biocompatible glass, which is the same as used for human pacemakers, so they should not cause any reaction.
What happens if my dog goes missing?
All establishments where stray dogs are routinely taken, including the local council, police and veterinary practices, have access to electronic scanners which read the identity chip’s unique fifteen digit number. They then contact the relevant database to match the chip number with the owner’s contact details, and quickly get in touch to let the owner know that the dog has been found. This can be done within minutes but it is therefore essential that once your dog is chipped, you keep your contact details up to date by informing the database of any changes.
What about cats?
Cats are not covered by the new legislation which means that the decision to have them microchipped is still very much one of owner's’ choice. However as they have such a tendency to roam (and to lose collars!) it is certainly something we at Willows feel remains very important.
What if I can't remember whether my dog is microchipped or not?
It is very easy to check for a microchip using a scanner so if you are not sure please let us know. We can arrange for a member of staff to scan your dog and check for a working chip. We always check for an existing chip before implanting a new one.
How do I arrange microchipping?
Implanting a microchip is a procedure that can be done in a routine consultation so please contact reception to book a slot.
For further information see our Pet Microchipping page or alternatively speak to one of our primary clinic vets who will be pleased to help.