DOG owners in Scotland will be required by law to have their pets microchipped, it was announced yesterday.
The move was among measures put forward after a spate of dog attacks, including the mauling of Broagan McCuaig, 8, by two American bulldogs in Glasgow in October 2013.
“Scotland is a nation of animal lovers, and so we must do all we can to safeguard dog welfare and promote responsible ownership”Richard Lochhead
But critics last night warned chipping will not stop attacks. There were almost 11,000 dog- bite incidents over a three-year period across Scotland, it emerged recently.
Ministers say microchipping will help reunite lost or stolen dogs with their owners and identify owners whose dogs have been involved in incidents.
Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is a nation of animal lovers, and so we must do all we can to safeguard dog welfare and promote responsible ownership.
“The owners of out-of-control dogs can be required to microchip their dogs under existing legislation, and I understand that around two-thirds of the dogs in Scotland have already been microchipped on a voluntary basis.
“In 2014, over 10,000 dogs across these islands were reunited with their owners as a result of a microchip. This is an impressive figure, but it could be improved on dramatically by ensuring that all dogs are microchipped.”
Microchipping is already due to come into effect in England and Wales next April. Owners will be able to get microchipping carried out free from the Dogs Trust until next April.
Labour MSP Paul Martin, whose constituency covers the Garthamlock area of Glasgow where Brogan was attacked, called microchipping a “step in the right direction”.
But he warned: “This measure alone will not protect members of the public from out-of-control dogs. I would like to see the introduction of home assessments to ensure that dogs, particularly large breeds, are living in suitable conditions.
“I would also like to see mandatory training programmes put in place so would-be owners know how to handle large breeds.
“I believe these measures are important for public safety and animal welfare.”
Councils must also fully implement the Control of Dogs Act, including dog control notices which could “save lives if properly enforced”.
Elvira Meucci, campaigns director at the Dogs Trust, welcomed the move.
“We have long been a leading voice in the campaign for compulsory microchipping and are delighted to see the Scottish Government legislate for this important component of dog welfare and responsible ownership,” she said.
North East Tory MSP Nanette Milne said the move was a “welcome step forward.”
But she added: “There are still a number of outstanding issues which the compulsory microchipping of all dogs will not address: namely puppy farms and the growth in the sale of puppies and dogs online, as well as the indiscriminate breeding of dogs in social rented properties and the lack of enforcement and dog control by local authorities.”