New microchip law
By law, any dog in a public place must wear a collar and tag bearing the name and address of the owner; if you are not comfortable putting your whole address, the house number and postcode will suffice. However, from 6 April 2016 all dogs must also have a microchip, so please read the following information to make sure you are compliant.
Why is the law changing?
The change is designed to encourage responsible dog ownership: lost dogs can be quickly reunited with their family relieving pressure on shelters and reducing the stress for all involved; dog responsibility disputes will be more easily settled; and compulsory microchipping should reduce the number of abandoned or neglected dogs as the original owner can be traced.
Who does it affect?
Everyone who keeps a dog. Most dogs rehomed from rescue centres will already have a microchip, but the new law means that all dogs over 8 weeks old must be chipped and the keeper’s details registered with an approved database. Rescue centres will be the registered keeper until the dog finds a forever home, and likewise breeders will be registered as the first keeper of all new puppies. Dogs imported from abroad will also need to have a microchip. The rescue centre or breeder will then hand over the paperwork to the new owner, and the responsibility lies with the new keeper to amend the details to their own. This law only applies to England and Wales; Northern Ireland introduced compulsory microchipping in 2012, while Scotland is waiting to see the impact in England before considering a similar move.
How will it be enforced?
Local authorities and the police will both be tasked with enforcing the change and will be equipped with scanners to carry out their duty. If your dog is found to be unchipped, you will be given a short window in which you must comply with the new law, after which you can face a fine of up to £500 per dog.
What do you need to do?
If you’re unsure if your dog is already microchipped, you can simply ask your vet to scan her. If your dog isn’t chipped, you will need to get the simple procedure done before 6 April 2016 and make sure you register your details with an approved database. You can either visit your vet to get this done, or a charity, such as Dogs Trust, who run free or subsidised chipping days. If your pet is already chipped, then please take 5 minutes to make sure that the database is up to date with all your contact details. You must also inform the database if your pet passes away.
Will microchipping hurt my pet?
The average pet microchip is no larger than a grain of rice and vets can easily chip animals much smaller than dogs without causing any pain. If you have a particularly small dog, the implanter may offer an even smaller version to suit your breed. An anaesthetic is not required for the procedure and the discomfort is no more than that of a regular vaccination. Once the microchip is in place, neither you nor your pet will feel it.
Will the microchip move around?
The microchip is implanted under the dog’s skin between the shoulder blades, using a special device by a qualified person. It should not move too much, but occasionally they can migrate as your pup grows. Your vet will be able to locate your pet’s chip by moving the scanner around the shoulders, and once you know where it is you can remember for next time.
How much does it cost?
The cost of implanting a chip is minimal and also includes registration on an approved database, although it is likely that there will be a small administrative charge to change the details with new ownership or a house move.
Does it mean my dog doesn’t need to wear a tag?
All dogs must wear a collar and tag stating the keeper’s name and address when in a public place; this is in addition to being microchipped. We have all manner of collars to choose from and a good selection of tags which can be engraved on the spot in the Aylesbury store.
What else is changing?
A loophole in the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) will now also be closed – the current law only permits prosecution for a dog attack if it is in a public place, but victims will soon be able to prosecute if a dog attack occurs in the home or on the premises, such as the garden or driveway. This law does not apply if the dog attacks a burglar or trespasser.
Written by: Lucy Ellis