Having your dog microchipped is important for a lot of different reasons-it raises the chances of your dog making it home to you safely if they get lost and can help to prove ownership in the case of a dispute, to name just a couple.
But from April this year (2016) it actually became the law that all dogs in England and Wales must be microchipped, and the details held for their registered keeper on the microchipping database must be accurate and up to date too. This law applies to all dogs, including puppies that have yet to leave their mothers.
If this news is something of a surprise to you or you were not already aware of it, read on to learn a little bit more about the new microchipping rules for dogs in England and Wales.
When must dogs be microchipped?
The new law for microchipping dogs applies to all dogs in England and Wales, even when these dogs are young puppies still owned by their breeder and under the care of their dam. Once the puppy reaches eight weeks of age, they must be microchipped-but it is also wise to wait until the pups are at least six weeks old to do this, so that they are old enough and large enough to undergo the procedure without it being too painful or overwhelming.
Microchipping can usually be performed at the same time as the puppies have their initial vaccination shots, and it is mandatory even though those pups will likely go on to their new forever homes and need to have their microchip details updated to reflect the details of their new owners just a couple of weeks later.
If you own an adult dog, they should be microchipped already, so if you have not done this yet, now is the time!
What information is required on the keeper?
When you first get your dog microchipped, you will need to provide some basic information about yourself too, such as your full name, address and other contact details. These details are registered on the microchipping database, so that if your dog is found and scanned, someone can contact you directly and easily.
This information is securely stored, and not provided to the general public-for instance, if someone finds your dog and gets them scanned, the microchipping company or their representatives will contact you directly, rather than providing your information to the third party.
What is meant by “registered keeper?”
The new microchipping regulations refer to the details of the dog’s registered keeper rather than their owner, and for some people, understanding this distinction may be important.
Whilst most dog’s owners are also their registered keepers, this is not always the case-for instance, some racing or working dogs, and some high-level show dogs that are exhibited by a professional handler may live with someone other than the person that actually owns them.
The person with whom the dog normally lives and who is responsible for their care and day to day management is the person whose details should be registered alongside of the microchip number.
Why has the new law come into being?
The law itself covering the mandatory microchipping of all dogs took a long time to be approved by parliament, and ultimately came about thanks to lobbying from animal welfare charities, local council environmental departments that deal with lost and stray dogs, and other professional organisations that advocate for dogs.
As well as helping to ensure that lost dogs can be returned to their owners quickly, the new law should help to promote responsible dog ownership, and reduce instances of stray and abandoned dogs being dumped or abandoned by owners that were unable or unwilling to care for them properly.
What happens if your dog is not microchipped?
When you first get a new dog or puppy, you should of course find out if it is microchipped already, and transfer the details over to reflect that of yourself as the new registered keeper.
If the dog or puppy is not microchipped, you should have this done as soon as possible-within 21 days of taking ownership of the dog.
If your dog is found not to be microchipped, in the first instance it is likely that you will simply be informed of the new law, and given a warning to have the dog microchipped within 21 days. You may be required to prove that you have done this.
If you then refuse to have your dog microchipped or do not have them chipped within the given timeframe after you have received a warning, you may face a fine of up to £500, and potentially, run the risk of having your dog taken from you if you still do not comply with the law.
Also, don’t forget that the microchip itself is not enough-the details held for the registered keeper on the microchipping database must be up to date and accurate, and any change of details should be completed within 21 days of your taking on a new dog too.