Microchipping all dogs would ‘save thousands of pet lives’

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Holyrood urged to put legislation in place, says Claire Smith

ANIMAL welfare organisations have backed calls for compulsory microchipping for dogs – saying it could save the lives of thousands of pets a year.

In a survey of pet lovers carried out by the Kennel Club, 90 per cent said they agreed with the introduction of compulsory microchipping.

However, Carl Padgett, president of the British Veterinary Association, said the Scottish Government is lagging on the issue – urging it to begin the process of looking into legislation.

He said: “Microchipping is safe, low-cost and the most effective way of reuniting a dog with its owners. By making it compulsory, Scottish Government would send a strong message to dog owners about their responsibilities, without putting an additional burden onto those who are already responsible.

“Lost and stray dogs can suffer health and welfare problems from being separated from their owners, and local authorities and charities have to meet kennelling costs. Compulsory microchipping is a win-win policy that will help dogs and their owners as well as creating savings for the public purse.

“Scotland is already lagging behind the rest of the UK, as England and Wales are consulting on plans for a compulsory system and Northern Ireland is in its first year of mandatory microchipping. It’s time for Scottish Government to look at the legislation, too.”

The drive to introduce compulsory microchipping of dogs is also backed by the SSPCA and the Kennel Club. Microchipping costs around £30 and means that a lost pet can quickly be reunited with its owner.

As well as preventing animals from being needlessly put down, the measure would also help identify owners who mistreat their pets.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The Scottish SPCA would strongly support compulsory microchipping of all dogs.

“This is currently being proposed in England and Wales and, if passed, we would expect that the Scottish Government would take this into account.

“Microchipping ensures that if a dog goes missing it can be reunited with its owner quickly and safely. We also believe this would help target irresponsible owners and identify those who intentionally abandon their animals.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: “The Kennel Club has long lobbied for the introduction of compulsory microchipping, which brings a raft of benefits including reducing the time taken to reunite dog and owner if a dog is lost or stolen, cost savings to local authorities in the kennelling of strays, and helping to trace rogue breeders who sell puppies from puppy farms.

“The introduction of compulsory microchipping would be a bold move which would have far-reaching benefits for dog welfare in this country. It would help ensure that puppies sold in pet shops can be traced back to their breeder and to clearly link owners to dogs and their dog’s actions.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government recognises the benefits of microchipping in helping to re-unite dogs with owners where dogs have been lost or stolen, which is why it is recommended as best practice in the code of practice for the welfare of dogs.

“However, there are currently no plans to introduce compulsory microchipping more widely”.

Victoria Brown, external affairs manager at the Kennel Club, said

“The Kennel Club will continue to lobby the Scottish Parliament on the benefits of permanent identification going forward and is due to meet formally with the minister to discuss this issue further in the near future”

• For information about microchipping, visit www.nationalmicrochippingmonth.org.uk