On April 6 2016, microchipping becomes compulsory for all dogs in the UK. The change will have the biggest impact in Britain; chipping has been mandatory in Northern Ireland since 2012.
Under the new rules, dogs’ keepers are responsible for having their pet microchipped and registered to an approved database by eight weeks of age. If a dog is found to be unchipped the keeper will have 21 days to comply to the law. Failure to take action could mean being slapped with a £500 fine or a conviction. Keepers must also ensure dogs’ details remain up to date and inform their database of any moves or changes to address.
Chipping shouldn’t impact on the need for pet accessories. Dogs still need to wear a collar and ID when in a public place. In fact, retailers can increase the number of services they offer by undertaking the training needed to microchip pets.
So, will microchipping offer practical benefits for pets and the trade? According to Defra, lost and stray dogs cost the taxpayer and charities £33 million a year. The tiny chip could reunite pets with their owners, reduce the burden on animal sanctuaries and pounds while aiding the crackdown on theft. It could even lift the lid on abuse by helping the authorities track down the keepers of abused dogs. Let’s hope that the new law will help many dogs find – and be reunited – with loving owners.