As previously covered, on the 6th of April, 2016 dog owners were faced with a new ruling which meant that it was now a mandatory law for all dogs over the age of eight weeks old to be microchipped. Since the launch, owners were given an initial grace period for which they were required to meet the new rule and take appropriate action. That period is now over.
After the introduction of the new law, a grace period of three months was given to owners, which meant that their dog must be chipped and the details of the it must be stored an up to date microchip database during that time.
The period officially ended last month, and now councils will begin to enforce its new legal powers to ensure all owners microchips are in place. Going forward every dog that the council’s dog wardens find will be subjected to a microchip scanner to search for its owner and in the unfortunate case it doesn’t have one, the owner will face consequences.
In the first instance, if the animal isn’t chipped, wardens will offer to arrange this to be carried out for the owner. If that person refuses the help, they will be hit with an enforcement notice that will legally instruct them to get their dog chipped within the next 21 days. Furthermore, if the dog is still not microchipped after this, the owner will face prosecution and if found guilty, they will be hit with a £500 penalty.
The ruling will now also give council’s the official power to take dogs off of owners to microchip them and then they will pass on the costs of that action to the dog’s minder.
Dog wardens over the past few years have been working hand in hand with the Dogs Trust to combat and provide microchipping. Interestingly over the last three months, dog wardens have actually microchipped over 300 dogs for free at community events.
It is being strongly pointed out that this law hasn’t been brought about to bring hassle or complications to dog owners. When owners decided to microchip dogs, they are taking an active step to prevent the loss of their dog or worse, their animal being stolen. With thousands of missing or kidnapped dogs each year, there is a justifiable reason why this law has been introduced.
A dog warden called Gavin Jarrett, was recently interviewed about the ending of this grace period. He said, ‘We want to reassure people that they aren’t going to be hit with an automatic £500 fine if their dog isn’t microchipped now… If people point blank refuse to get their dog chipped that’s when we’ll be issuing the legal notices. Failing to comply with the notice could then result in prosecution.’ He went on to say that, ‘We think the costs and benefits of microchipping far outweigh a potential £500 fine and a criminal conviction so we’d really encourage people to do the right thing.’
The microchips themselves are actually on the size of a grain of rice and cause no pain to the dog as they’re placed between the loose skin between a dog’s shoulder blades. As it is injected with a sterile needle, it simply feels no different to that of a standard injection for a vaccination.
In the case that you’re selling your dog or passing it on to a new owner, the dog must be microchipped beforehand. The responsibility of making sure the contact details are correct and registered will then rely on the new owner.
As it such an easy process that logically allows you to be traced back to your pet, councils are encouraging owners to act now, as they should have already done, before facing unneeded penalties and fees.
Veronica Pembleton is a freelance writer and research journalist, who specialises in a number of core areas, including animal protection, rights and law. With a love for animals, Veronica used her Journalism degree to gain access to a number of related cases and contacts, where she was able to build her portfolio of feature article.