Veterinary associations have hailed the introduction of compulsory microchipping for all dogs in England as a giant leap forward for dogs and their owners.
Defra has announced that from 6th April 2016 all dogs will be required to have a microchip, giving owners over three years to comply with new legislation that will be drafted by Defra.
The British Veterinary Association and British Small Animal Association have long campaigned for microchipping to be compulsory for all dogs and both associations are members of the Microchipping Alliance, which has brought many organisations together to lobby for new legislation.
Microchipping is a safe and effective way to permanently identify a dog and, through registration on a database, the dog can be linked to its owner and quickly reunited if it goes missing.
Compulsory microchipping will significantly reduce the number of lost and stray animals being kept by local authorities and charities at enormous cost.
The Government also announced plans to extend the scope of the Dangerous Dogs Act to private places and to allow police to decide if dogs seized under the Act can stay with their owners until the outcome of the court case, removing the need for these dogs to be kennelled.
Both of these measures were supported by The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) in joint responses to the Defra consultation.
The introduction of compulsory microchipping is a giant leap for dogs and their owners and is something that vets have long campaigned for. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to link dogs to their owners and is an essential part of responsible ownership. Microchipping is a small cost in terms of dog ownership with veterinary practices offering microchipping for around £15-£20 or for free as part of a practice promotion. Dogs Trust and other rehoming charities are also offering free microchipping at their centres and through local authorities.
The Dangerous Dogs Act is woefully inadequate and needs a complete overhaul. However, in the absence of new legislation we do welcome these changes to extend the law to private property and to allow some dogs to stay with their owners during court proceedings. Extending the law to cover private places sends a strong message that dogs much be kept under control at all times and reinforces the message of responsible ownership. We hope that allowing dogs to stay with their owners during court proceedings will significantly reduce the number of innocent dogs unnecessarily kennelled by the police simply because of the way they look.BVA President Peter Jones
The ability to reunite stray dogs with their grateful owners is a great thrill in veterinary practice, and so we warmly welcome today's announcement. But microchips are only as useful as the information on the database and so it is essential that owners realise that they must keep their details up to date.Mark Johnston, BSAVA President
For more information visit www.defra.gov.uk