'Time is now right' to microchip dogs

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SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson told parliament that "surely the time is now right" to introduce the compulsory microchipping of dogs, on 6 May 2014.

Leading a member's debate entitled Microchipping and Muzzling, Mr Gibson however warned against proposing to introduce compulsory muzzling of dogs in public.

The member for Cunninghame North agreed with a recent Scottish government consultation that the compulsory microchipping of all dogs will bring various benefits including assisting with the identification of strays and lost animals, helping identify those who commit cruelty against animals and improving accountability of owners of dangerous dogs.

Compulsory dog microchipping is already enforced in Northern Ireland, and will be introduced in Wales in 2015 and England in 2016.

The Scottish government consultation was aimed at cutting the number of dog attacks in Scotland following a string of such incidents over several years.

However, Mr Gibson was concerned that introducing compulsory muzzling of dogs would not bring any welfare benefits to the animals, nor encourage responsible ownership.

On muzzling, Minister Paul Wheelhouse spoke of striking a "sensible balance" between public safety and the relatively few number of dog attacks in Scotland.

However, Mr Wheelhouse agreed that microchipping could bring benefits which the Scottish government had "long recognised" but warned of the need to be "realistic" about what such technology could achieve.

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