As of today all dogs in the UK are required by law to be microchipped and their owners' details kept up to date. With an estimated 8.5million dogs in the UK and 24% of British households owning a pet dog, according to trusted figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, this new law affects a good deal of the population.
As dramatic as it may sound, microchipping your dog and keeping your contact details up to date could be the difference between being reunited with your pet if he goes missing and never seeing him again. This is why every dog welfare organisation is in support of the new legislation - it will drastically help in returning missing dogs to their owners.
More than 50% of stray dogs can't be returned when they are found because their owners can't be identified and around 6,000 dogs are euthanised each year because their owner cannot be found. These shocking figures are avoidable through microchipping and are expected to reduce because of chipping becoming compulsory.
So how does microchipping work? A microchip around the size of a grain of rice is implanted by a vet or trained microchip implanter in a quick and safe procedure. It's that simple. The owner's details are then recorded on a government compliant database, which means that if a dog goes missing and is then found (no matter where) and scanned by a vet, the owner can be traced so long as their details are up to date and their much-loved pet can be returned to them.
There is already a high rate of compliance for the new law - the latest figures from Defra show that over 86% of the dog population is already microchipped with just over one million left to go.
One of the most important things to ensure when any new law comes in that might affect you is that you familiarise yourself with it so that you can weed out any rumours that start surfacing (as they always seem to do). In the case of microchipping, recent media reports have somewhat irresponsibly implied that it may not be entirely safe for small dogs, which is simply not true. In response to these reports, both the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association have reassured dog owners that microchipping is completely safe. When any new law comes in there are always questions, assumptions and misconceptions, so a new online resource called Chip It Check It has been created for compulsory microchipping. This allows owners to check their dog's microchip to see which database they are recorded with and provides information, advice and tips for dog owners and vets to ensure all dog owners are complying with the law.
All dog owners in England, Wales and Scotland have had until today to have their dog microchipped and register them with a government compliant microchip database. After today all puppies must be microchipped and registered with a microchip database by the time they are 8 weeks old. Anyone who does not have their dog microchipped after 6th April 2016 will have 21 days to have the dog microchipped, and failure to do so may result in a fine, so it is important that dog owners know their responsibilities.
It's also worth noting that the microchipping regulations do not affect the requirement for collars and tags as part of the Control of Dogs Order 1992, so these must still be worn by dogs when out in public.
If you own a dog and are yet to have it microchipped you need to act now to ensure you aren't breaking the law. On top of risking a fine, you risk never seeing your four legged friend again if he goes missing, which for a dog owner is one of the worst things that could happen.
Visit Chip It Check It for more information on compulsory microchipping.