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As all dog owners in the UK should know already, microchipping for all pet dogs from the age of eight weeks old onwards became mandatory a year ago (April 2016), with penalties for noncompliance on the part of dogs owners beginning with a fine of £500, and further penalties for repeated failures after the initial warning.
This law was largely welcomed by canine welfare organisations including the Dogs Trust, and of course, microchipping has a range of potential benefits for pets as well as ensuring compliance with the law!
Microchipping makes it much easier to trace the owner or registered keeper of any dog if they get lost or are stolen, and to prove ownership and identify any given dog’s registered keeper. Part of the reason for the new law is the fact that at the time of the law’s inception, thousands of dogs every year that get lost end up in shelters taking up valuable resources from dogs in need simply because it is not possible to locate their owners.
So, now that a year has passed since the law came into being in the UK, has it done anything to reduce the number of un-microchipped dogs in the UK, and is it proving effective? New figures and a statement announced by The Dogs Trust this week after analysis of the data available for Wales indicates that it has. To find out more about the microchipping law and how to ensure you comply with it, check out our prior article. In the meantime, read on to find out more about the microchipping situation in Wales a year on from the law’s introduction, and how the results are likely to be a good reflection of the situation elsewhere in the UK too.
The data collated and examined by The Dogs Trust as outlined in their figures refers to Wales only. However, the law is in place across the UK and while there are likely to be variations in different areas and across different councils, depending on how seriously enforcement of the law is taken in different places, should be a reasonable reflection of the situation in the UK as a whole.
The available data that has been analysed on behalf of The Dogs Trust reflects figures on the number of dogs in Wales that were microchipped prior to the law and now, a year since its inception, as well as what this means in terms of non-compliance, and the identification of potential problems.
Over the course of the year to date since mandatory microchipping came into force in Wales, the number of dogs in Wales that are microchipped rose from 69% to 94%. This is a very significant jump, and which means that almost a third of the country’s dogs were not chipped prior to the change in the law, but are chipped now.
In the year prior to the law coming in (2015-2016), a total of 3,193 dogs that got lost or strayed from their homes in Wales were successfully reunited with their owners. However, just 15% of these dogs were reunited as a result of their microchips, meaning that for the remainder of these thousands of dogs, successful return to the owner meant a lot of leg work and manpower hours on the part of the various councils and rehoming charities that advocate for rehoming and reuniting dogs.
While the figure of 94% of all dogs in Wales being correctly microchipped definitely indicates a large surge in compliance with the law, this does still mean that 6% of dogs in Wales remain un-microchipped, despite the large awareness-raising campaign and of course, the legal penalty for failure to comply.
The standard discretionary fine for a dog owner failing to microchip their dog (and register the correct and up to date details of the registered keeper) is £500-however, as this is a relatively new law, councils and local authorities are unlikely to fine a dog’s owner for a first offence of being caught with an un-microchipped dog.
However, even taking this into account, a total of 2,751 fines were issues for non-compliance with the law in Wales in the last year. 1,464 of these fines were issued for the dog in question not having a microchip at all, whilst the remaining 1,287 were issued to owners whose microchipping details were not up to date.
This strongly reinforces the importance of not only having your dog microchipped in the first instance, but also the need to ensure that the registered keeper’s details are kept up to date if the dog changes hands or any of the owner’s details change.
With a total of 94% of dogs in Wales now microchipped, this still means that the remaining 6%-an estimated 30,000 dogs across Wales all told-would not be able to be reunited with ease if lost.
One particular area of weakness in terms of noncompliance with the new law that was identified in Wales as part of the data analysis pertains to dog breeders, and a significant number of pedigree dog breeders in the UK are based in Wales. Breeders are responsible for microchipping their litters as soon as they reach eight weeks old-which means before they are sold on to their new homes.
However, Andrew Jackson, The Dogs Trust’s Head of Campaigns, said that a growing number of Welsh breeders were failing to register their dogs prior to sale, which means that the problem is passed on to the pup’s new buyers.
If you are buying a pedigree (or even non-pedigree) puppy anywhere in the UK, ensure that the breeder has microchipped the litter first-and if you find that this is not the case, or the breeder incorrectly tells you that this is your responsibility-choose another seller. If you have found the breeder through our Pets4Homes website, then please report them directly to us.
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