Dogs in England must be microchipped from 2016


Dog microchip date set for England

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Every dog owner in England will have to microchip their animal from 2016 under plans intended to cut a rise in strays.

The microchips will be coded with owners' details, and owners who do not comply could face fines of up to £500.

A legal loophole may also be closed, meaning owners could be prosecuted over an attack by their dog on private land.

The RSPCA welcomed the proposals, but said it doubted that they alone would "make owners more responsible or ensure fewer dogs bite people".

Government figures reveal that more than 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost each year, at a cost of £57m to the taxpayer and welfare charities.

Ministers hope the change in the law will help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets and relieve some of the burden on animal charities and local authorities.

Stray dog stats broken down by reunited with owners, put down and microchipped

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "It's ludicrous that in a nation of dog-lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down."

He added: "Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners. It makes it easier to get their pet back if it strays and easier to trace if it's stolen."

The change in the law will be effective from 6 April 2016. Any owner whose dog is found without a chip and can be traced by local authorities will have a short period of time to have the dog microchipped.

Laws governing dog attacks will also be extended to cover private property, closing a loophole which has meant that dog owners whose animals have attacked people on private property are immune from prosecution.

Welfare warnings

David Bowles, the RSPCA's head of public affairs, said: "Compulsory microchipping and extending the law to cover private property as well as public spaces is a welcome move.

"However, on their own we don't believe they will make owners more responsible or ensure fewer dogs bite people or other animals."

He said that the number of warnings issued to dog-owners because of poor welfare last year had been up 12% on 2011, while in the last four years there had been a 26% rise in the number dog bites requiring hospitalisation.

What is microchipping?

  • A small chip, the size of a grain of rice, is inserted between the shoulder blades of a dog using a sterile needle
  • The procedure does not require an anaesthetic and is no more painful than a standard vaccination
  • The chip is coated in a bio-compatible glass, the same material used in human pacemakers, which is not rejected by the dog's body
  • The device fuses to the dog's bodily tissue, meaning it will not move around

"If the government are trying to tackle these, we don't see how compulsory microchipping will help reduce either of these figures," he said.

Eight children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005, with many of these incidents taking place in the home, figures from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs show.

In the past 12 months, more than 3,000 postal workers were attacked by out-of-control dogs, with 70% of these attacks happening on private property.

But householders will be protected from prosecution if their dog attacks a burglar or trespasser on their land.

Currently some animal charities, such as the Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and Battersea Dogs and Cats home, offer a free microchipping service to owners.

The procedure, which costs about £20-£30 at a private veterinary clinic, involves inserting a sterile chip the size of a grain of rice between a dog's shoulder blades.

Free microchips, donated by the Dogs Trust, will be circulated to veterinary clinics, although it is currently unclear whether vets will charge for the service.

Updating information

Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust: "It's not going to cure all, but it will be a huge help"

Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of the Dogs Trust charity, said the scheme would make "a huge difference".

Most of the 16,000 dogs looked after by the trust each year had not been microchipped, she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We could get those dogs back to their worried owners if they have a microchip and are identifiable," she said.

"With a register, kept up to date, people will be able to get their dogs back far more easily."

But Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, said the scheme was flawed because many owners did not keep their information up to date.

"The National Dog Warden Association says 40% of the dogs they pick up that are chipped have got incomplete or inaccurate data, meaning they can't be returned," she said.

"People don't know how to update their records. The chip is invisible - once it's in there people forget it's there. "

Compulsory microchipping was introduced in Northern Ireland in April 2012.

Similar plans were considered in Wales in 2012, although no formal policy announcement has yet been made.

The Scottish government has said that, while it recognised the benefits of microchipping, there was "no evidence compulsory microchipping would effectively tackle welfare issues".

A spokesman added that Holyrood would watch developments in the rest of the UK and "may consider the matter further in future".


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  • Comment number 543.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    The EU is reviewing the fishing and the UK govt the chips. Teamwork at last!

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    What about dog marriage?

    It's about time this was tackled in parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    528. DisgustedTW
    "For those defending their beloved, well-trained, wouldn't-harm-a-fly bull terriers, alsatians, mastiffs, rottweiler, attack dogs etc should remember that ANY dog can flip and attack a person."

    So tell me, how will a microchip prevent that from happening? Also, given the number of human dog - interactions each day, attacks are rarer than hens teeth, and usually down to the human

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    i took my over weight dog to the vets and he told me not to give him chips. Is this more contradictory advice from the con/dem/lib/lab pact. i blame MP's and higher rate tax payers from Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    Responsible people don't keep animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    514. humdingerboo

    As a dog owner without kids I'm forced to pay towards other people's kids so why shouldn't I get something back? Having said that I FULLY endorse the fines for those who don't pick up after their dog - especially as those of us who do are tarred with the same brush. BUT please make the same fines for people who litter or spit..they are just as bad if not worse!

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    All cats and dogs who belong to responsible members of society should be chipped for their own safety and the owners piece of mind in case they are ever lost, stolen or injured and found somewhere. Its common sense surely?

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    519. DSA

    "Tags on all dogs plus an iphone application to scan a reading from any offending or lost dog would make tagging worthwhile"

    There are already Android apps, to read RFID enabled credit card chips, which will also read 'some' other rfid chips. They need a smartphone with NFC, but I wouldn't want to be waving my £400 smartphone around a 'suspect' dog who thinks I want to play chase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    505. Knut Largerson
    I'd vote for the party that would make a stand on dog fouling.
    Mine does a terrific slide tackle, she says she always get the ball, my shins tell another story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    SC BSc

    I'm no great cat fan, but I certainly don't hate them. They are animals and thus deserve respect. I just wish they would not congregate in, mess in or kill birds in my garden. I'd have a problem with any animals that did that regularly, be they cats, dogs or goldfish. Why should cat owners not be held to the same expectation of responsibility as all other pet owners?

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    article states: "The device fuses to the dog's bodily tissue, meaning it will not move around", which simply isn't guaranteed, they're well known for migrating, I've known of a dog who's chip ended up in its tail, and another locally who left the UK on a pet passport but was denied re-entry because the chip had disappeared. I don't totally disagree, but would opt for tattoos too for belt n braces.

  • Comment number 531.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    It's a good idea, but fundamental flaw is that the very people who don't bother to conform won't be traceable! Will only work if officers are allowed to spot-check high-risk dogs and enforce the rule. Possibly could also consider an 'armistice' whereby all currently unchipped dogs could be chipped for free to boost uptake?

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    @515you can't think anyone with the idea that we're turning into a big brother state is a nut job. There's no denying that things are getting more ''controlled''. The assumed idea that all kids are going to be chipped just because dogs are is a bit much of course. The argument should be whether it's a good thing for us or a bad thing, whether the positives outweight the negatives of such a future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    For those defending their beloved, well-trained, wouldn't-harm-a-fly bull terriers, alsatians, mastiffs, rottweiler, attack dogs etc should remember that ANY dog can flip and attack a person. Even those little dogs that grow out of old lady's armpits.

    However I'd reckon a child's chances of surviving an attack from a chihuahua are greater than if it were your rottweiler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    427 Hastings; by law cats are indeed not domesticated. So you are incorrect in the context the point was put. If a cat were (unlikely) to attack and hurt someone, the owner would not be responsible in a uk court. So, u are indeed dim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    Why haven't we got a HYS on the Bedroom Tax? Combined with giving tenants their housing benefit directly it will lead to the biggest social catastrophe this country has ever seen, and lead to unrest on a bigger scale than the Poll Tax riots. A topic worthy of discussion I would think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    Woof, woof, woof, woof woof woof woof. Chompy, chomp. Chuff chuff.

    (Translation - I agree, we should be loved, chipped and our poo collected)

    ( '.' )
    (")-(") xxx woof

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    Which MP owns the firm who makes the chips


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