Vets have welcomed the news that almost 710,000 dogs have been microchipped in the last 12 months, following the introduction of the new dog microchipping law.
However, 5.5 per cent of the UK’s dog population remain without a microchip, meaning their owners face a fine of up to £500.
Now vets are hoping to use the first anniversary of the law to remind owners of their legal responsibility and the importance a microchip can play in reuniting lost pets with their owners.
“It’s encouraging to see that so many dogs have been microchipped since the introduction of the law in April 2016,” said Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
“But 450,000 still aren’t microchipped, meaning their owners are facing a fine of up to £500 and potentially losing their pet forever if they ever become lost.
“We’re hoping the anniversary will encourage dog owners to get their dog microchipped if they haven’t done so already.”
A microchip is a small device, around the size of a grain of rice, and is implanted under the skin in a simple procedure. Each chip has a unique 15-digit number, which will last the lifetime of the pet and can be read using a special scanner.
Microchips increase the chances of lost dogs being reunited with their owners, something Rebecca Latter from Yorkshire can testify to after her three-month-old Shih Tzu escaped into the neighbour’s garden.
“Echo escaped, was taken to the vets and returned so quickly, so I was actually unaware he had gone missing,” said Rebecca.
“The neighbours had recently moved into the area and did not recognise Echo so took him down to the local vets where he was scanned for a microchip, my contact details were revealed and he was brought home.
“Luckily, because I hadn’t realised he had disappeared I was spared all the worry and fear, but it clearly demonstrates that microchipping works.
“Echo is such a small dog and he was only a few months old. If I had known that he was missing I would’ve been terrified about what could happen to him.
“My experience shows how easily a lost dog can be reunited with their owners if it is microchipped. I would always recommend microchipping to every dog owner.”
However, having your dog microchipped is only half of the solution. It is equally important to ensure your details are up to date on your relevant microchip database, as it is part of the dog microchipping law.
Pets will only be reunited with their owners if their contact details have been kept up-to-date, so our advice is to treat your pet’s microchip information with the utmost importance,” added Dr Stacey.
“If the contact details are not updated, the task of returning a pet to its owner becomes almost impossible.
“Moving house, changing a mobile number or changing an email address are common ways a lost pet can lose permanent contact with its owner.”
Vets4Pets is urging owners to update their dog’s microchip details regularly and add it to the list of things to do when moving house to increase the chance of a dog being returned home safely.
If you are unsure if your dog’s microchip details are up to date, your local vet will be able to check these for you.