Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Defra Announces Compulsory Microchipping


This morning, 6th February 2013, the Government announced that microchipping of all dogs in England will soon be compulsory, something we have long campaigned for. We are committing to supporting the law change by heavily investing in making microchips available for free for any dog in the UK.

In the words of our CEO Clarissa Baldwin OBE:

“For many years Dogs Trust has led the campaign for the introduction of compulsory microchipping and we applaud the decision the Government has taken which represents a hugely significant and progressive breakthrough for dog welfare.  

“As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, reducing the UK’s stray dog population is at the very heart of what we do which is why we have committed a considerable amount of money to ensure no dog owners will lack the financial ability to microchip their dog. Currently, microchipping involves a minimal one-off cost, but the benefits last a life-time.”

Put simply, microchipping is the single most effective means of returning a dog to its owner – thus saving lives.

We are running a series of free weekend chipping events across the UK in March and April, full details of which can be found on our website.


There will be more events in the future, and we will also continue to offer free microchipping by appointment at any of our centres (call to book), as we have been since December 2011. There are also plans to offer free chips to vets, who will be able to take part on a voluntary basis.

While the change of law applies to England only, our centres in Scotland and Wales will be taking part, and we will continue the extensive work that we have been doing in Northern Ireland where we have now chipped 115,000 dogs in 18 months – roughly a third of the local dog population.

The compulsory permanent identification of all dogs means that more dogs found lost or straying can be returned to their owners and in a timelier manner. local authorities were unable to return over half (52%) of stray dogs in 2010/11, a total of 65,612 dogs, because they were unidentifiable. We believe the new measures will help reduce the burden on animal welfare charities such as Dogs Trust and reduce the cost to local authorities of kennelling, which could save the public purse approximately anywhere between £20.5 and £22.8 million per year.

We know that people will have questions about enforcement and keeping chips updated. We are stressing the importance of linking microchipping to registration, and work hard to inform owners of both the benefits of microchipping and the need to keep details updated. We don’t just focus on the owners who are already likely to comply; for example, our City Dogs campaign works with owners - particularly of so-called status dogs - in the more disadvantaged parts of London, providing free microchipping alongside advice and education.

For those concerned about compliance, our work in Northern Ireland has indicated that microchipping is a considerably more attractive option than licensing; though compliance with the licence is quite low, our microchipping programme is very popular, as owners recognise the benefits of chipping but object to what they see as being taxed to own a dog (you can read a more detailed post on why we favour microchipping over licensing here). There will also be a system of fines in place to help enforce the new law.

To be clear, we don’t believe that complulsory microchipping will solve all dog-related problems. Today’s announcement has come as part of a wider package of dog control measures for England which Dogs Trust does not believe go far enough to tackle the many issues surrounding irresponsible dog ownership, least of all dangerous dogs.  Dogs Trust would like to see an end to breed specific legislation and we believe that until a fundamental overhaul of dog legislation is undertaken, including provisions for preventative measures, dog control problems in this country will remain.

For more information, see www.chipmydog.org.uk. You can also search the hashtag #chipmydog on Twitter.

[Image: Richard Moore, Manager at Dogs Trust Harefield, demonstrates microchipping and scanning.]
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