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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  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Careful scrutiny needed of proposals regarding dog attacks.The Welsh Assembly proposed prosecution of the owner if the dog attacks a burglar,even if the burglar attacks the dog first, is an indication of legislation which continues to regard criminals as potential victims. Identification by microchip or DNA is a sensible path, but who will enforce it against travellers or on certain no go estates?

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    In an different life, there could have been people acting very much like traffic wardens walking the parks and streets with devices that would *ping* if the dog had no chip. Issue on the spot fines to those too lazy and tight to pay the £20 for a microchip.

    But ultimatly, bad people are bad people and they will flout what they will to suit themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Lately I've been hoping they'd ban all dogs. Our neighbour's dog barks a lot and wakes our toddler up at nap time. I almost wish I was on worse terms with them so I could report them. Having a toddler I've noticed the HUGE amount of dog droppings in the area. Selfish, lazy dog owners!

    I like dogs, I'd have one myself if I thought the family would help me look after it but I know they wouldn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    So who is going to check that all the dogs are chipped? What is the process for doing this? How will "Chavs" with no money be forced to chip their dangerous dogs, and when they are fined who will ensure they will pay and/or receive an alternative punishment? The owners who cause the problems are exactly the ones who will not abide by this law, so it is pretty pointless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    All puppies should be chipped by whoever bred them. When they were sold, the breeders/previous owner should have to apply for a change of ownership - just like selling a car.
    Make it the responsibility of the breeder/seller and you remove much of the issue with regard to lazy owners.

    If a stray is found unchipped it should be chipped then the owner billed when found.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    I hope it will be children next!

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    CHIPS DO NOT WORK!! My very stupid 14 year old Irish Red Setter had one implanted 10 years ago - and she is still as daft now - if not worse! Proof then that implanting a computer chip does not improve intelegence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    123. europhile
    Dogs I hate them, nobody has been killed by a cat!
    Er, yes they have:

  • Comment number 195.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Great idea and well worthwhile.

    BUT - why, in this story, do we see another shining example of what is wrong in this country?? Ok, this is going to be LAW. But, if you're caught with a dog that hasn't been chipped you will get "a short period of time to have it microchipped". WHY?

    As for tracing owners and keeping records up to date chip owners too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    The penalty for owning a dog without a chip should be for the owner to be chipped. We could extend that to chipping a range of criminals!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Every tried changing your address with the chip firms when you move house?
    We tried to and the cost of changing the details is more than having the chip done!

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Re 172 'I understand that dogs have a significant carbon footprint so I'm amazed that the anti everything brigade haven't cottoned on yet and called for blanket eradication.'

    What a good idea......

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    "Dogs I hate them, nobody has been killed by a cat!"

    Your pet dog would mourn your death, your cat would eat your fingers and use your corpse as a litter tray.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    I bred a litter of seven pups last year, I kept one back for my own uses & sold the rest. On paper the Kennel Club still think I own three.The third party micro chipping company sent the change of ownership paperwork back to me on two other pups, so in theory they're still with me as well.
    Unless a pup gets a V55 as motor vehicle does this is going to be one big waste of time & money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    A step in the right direction, but how its enforced remains to be seen.

    Updating the database will be another matter - thousands of people fail to update the address on their drivers licence despite risk of £1000 fine.

    However, it will no doubt help reunite lost dogs with those responsible enough to have them chipped in the first place. Better then nowt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Make dog owners criminally responsible and charge them with assault, GBH ect if their dogs attack someone. Make it a crime to not have your dog under control in public, that will start to target the poor dog owners and the responsible dog owners will already be making sure their dog is under control and well behaved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    This is good news and I hope it's enforced. I would also appreciate being allowed to trap cats that enter my garden and crap everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    123. Europhile “Dogs I hate them, nobody has been killed by a cat!”

    Try doing a Google search on ‘deaths from cat bites’. Oh and while you’re at it you what about the Neighbours infestation of moggies that keep hopping over the fence to Cr@p in other people gardens?

    Feline VERMIN

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    2 Minutes ago
    Taxpayers money can be spent far more efficiently than this!!
    I am struggling to see how much this will cost the government, you obviously know so enlighten us and include your proof.


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