As the licensing debate rears its ugly head again, a number of people are asking why Dogs Trust believes that compulsory chipping is preferable to the dog licence.
Quite simply, a microchip has a benefit to both dog and owner. If a microchipped dog is lost, he's quickly reunited with his owner, saving stress and heartache all round. A dog licence has no welfare benefits whatsoever – it’s merely a tax. Dogs Trust does not believe that compulsory microchipping will solve all dog related problems. However, we do believe that many dogs’ lives will be saved if this becomes law.
Supporters of the licence ask us why the compliance rate for compulsory chipping would be any higher than for compulsory licensing. Well, the two propositions are totally different. Think of it in terms of some of our car-related laws...
We're required to pay tax on our car. That tax doesn't offer any immediate benefits to us as drivers and who knows where the money actually goes?
We're also required to wear a seatbelt when driving. This costs us a small amount when we buy a car as there's obviously a cost involved in fitting the belts. However, most of us are happy to comply with this law as we know it can be a lifesaver.
For car tax, think dog licence - an expensive annual tax.
For seat belt law, think compulsory microchipping - a small one-off fee giving life-saving protection.
And dog owners in one part of the UK already appreciate the difference. Compulsory licensing already exists in Northern Ireland – where only around a third of owners comply. Yet the Dogs Trust microchipping programme is very popular in Northern Ireland where we chip thousands of unlicensed dogs a year – because the owners recognise the benefits of chipping but object to being taxed for owning a dog.
Of course not everyone will comply (although making it mandatory to have dogs chipped before “first change of hands” will boost compliance) but most owners will not resent a law designed with the dog’s welfare in mind.
Microchips 1: Licensing 0.
Update - More from our Marketing Director
And Another thing…
It’s good to see this issue causing such lively debate on the blog and our Facebook pages.
It strikes me that dog owners may differ in their opinions but all want what’s best for dog welfare.
The anti dog brigade, on the other hand, are not so altruistic. Their main argument seems to be that dogs and their owners are a financial drain on the nation’s resources. We’re told that that an additional tax (ie a dog licence) should be introduced so that the dog warden service can be funded by dog owners. So let’s examine the facts…
A recent Mintel report estimates (conservatively) that taxes related to dog ownership (such as VAT on dog food) contribute over £450m to the public purse. Yet the combined cost of the UK’s dog warden services is in the £30-£40m price bracket. I’d say that dog owners are more than paying their way.