Millions of dog owners set to be prosecuted unless they take urgent action
Most dog owners are unprepared for new legislation which makes it compulsory to microchip their pets from April 2016. Online retailer MedicAnimal has taken a straw poll of animal rescues and believes that over 3.5 million dogs still have to be microchipped before the deadline – or around 360,000 each month. A further 2.7 million dog owners could be prosecuted for failing to keep their contact details up to date.
The new law comes into place from 6th April 2016 in England and spring 2016 in Scotland and Wales, requiring that dogs are chipped and owners keep their contact details up to date. The animal shelters and rescues that MedicAnimal spoke to claimed that about half of the animals that could be identified by their chip could not be quickly reunited with their owners as so many had not taken this simple step to ensure they could be contacted.
MedicAnimal founder and vet, Andrew Bucher says that caring pet owners could significantly reduce the burden on animal charities by having their pet microchipped. “Chipped pets can quickly be reunited with their owners as long as the contact details are correct but those that are not are rarely reunited and in fact place a tremendous strain on the resources of animal charities.”
While the law does not currently require cats to be microchipped, it is estimated that over 5 million cats remain unchipped. “Shelters told us that it was quite common for people to present cats at shelters as ‘stray’ when in fact they are not. We heard of one case where a chance in a million visual identification of a cat on a charity website resulted in him being reunited with his owners 8 years after going missing – at 11 years old he had lived more years away from his owners than with them. While it’s great that he was returned home, he required extensive treatment for a sore mouth and had clearly suffered.”
He continued, “Not knowing what has happened to your missing pet is a dreadful situation for any pet owner and we are reminding everyone to not just chip their pets but to keep their contact details up to date too. There are clearly millions of people set to break the law by spring next year and our plea to them is to please think about acting now to give vets and implanters time to chip and register their pets.”