Dog owners could face a fine of £500 if they do not get their pets microchipped before April this year, according to a Northampton veterinary practice.
From April 6 all dogs in England and Scotland will have to be microchipped as part of Government plans to reduce numbers of lost and stolen dogs and promote responsible dog ownership. In addition, all puppies will have to be chipped by the time they are eight weeks old. Similar legislation was introduced in Wales in March 2015 and Northern Ireland made microchipping dogs compulsory in 2012.
White Cross Vets, which has a practice in Northampton. believes the changes will greatly reduce the number of unidentified dogs that are brought into its 14 UK practices, but says many dog owners still need to have their pets chipped ahead of the deadline.
To coincide with the changes, the family-run veterinary group is offering to microchip dogs for free when they have a vaccination this month. The firm has also introduced a free online poster tool that can be used to help find lost dogs and other pets that are not covered by the new legislation.
Nishi Jani, clinic director at White Cross Vets in Northampton, said: “Microchipping is by far the most effective reunification tool for lost pets and especially because it typically costs less than £20 and lasts a lifetime.
“The system sees a tiny identity chip, the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin that can be scanned by a vet, dog warden or charity if the pet strays and the owners’ details can quickly be accessed. The microchip can’t be removed like a collar or tag so it offers the pet a permanent method of identification.
“However, at the moment there are still lots of dogs that aren’t microchipped and each year hundreds of lost pets are brought into our 14 practices that don’t have chips or they have chips that contain out of date contact details. In these instances we often have to rely on our active Facebook communities to help, and we currently reunite more than 10 pets every week with their owners through social media.
“We’ve also just launched a free online service so that anyone who has lost a pet can quickly and easily create a poster that they can print off and distribute in their local area. It contains space for a photograph and relevant information about the pet, such as whether it’s neutered and where it was last seen, which people making their own posters might not automatically think to include. It’s designed to be quick and easy to use and hopefully it can play a part in helping to reunite even more pets with their owners.”
Finally, Nishi says: “The penalties for ignoring the microchipping legislation are severe. When a dog without a microchip is brought to the attention of the authorities, it’s likely that the owner will be issued with a deadline to have it chipped, but after this they could be fined and even prosecuted, so it’s not something that should be ignored.”