A chipper outlook
Detailing the new legislation on the microchipping of dogs, Vicky Payne’s article is essential reading for anyone who breeds, owns, or works dogs
Depending on how good a job the government have done in publicising their new legislation, you may or may not be aware that, from 6 April this year, all dogs in England must be microchipped. In Wales and Scotland, the legislation is likely to come into effect some time in spring, and compulsory microchipping has been in force in Northern Ireland for some time. Readers in Northern Ireland should already be familiar with their legislation, and readers in Wales and Scotland will have to forgive me for concentrating on the English law, but it is likely that the Welsh and Scottish legislation will be very similar. Readers should note that I am basing this article on draft legislation which may have altered by publication.
It is hoped that compulsory microchipping will reduce the incidence of dog theft, make reuniting lost dogs easier, and aid in the prosecution of puppy farmers and the owners of dangerous dogs. The basic thing to appreciate about the new legislation is that, from 6 April, all dogs over eight weeks in England (with a few exceptions) must be microchipped and the keeper’s details recorded on a governmentapproved database. The microchip must meet a specific standard too, but this shouldn’t be an issue for dogs chipped in the UK or EU. Anyone breeding a litter of puppies must have them microchipped before they are sold, and must be registered as the first keeper. Microchipping can be delayed until 12 weeks in puppies that have
All dogs over eight weeks must be microchipped as of 6 April this year been docked, but must still be done before sale, and a vet can provide a certificate for any puppies deemed unsuitable for microchipping before eight weeks, allowing them to be done later. From 6 April only vets, vet nurses, vet/vet nurse students, implanters who have been on a course that included chipping real dogs, or those trained on the new state-approved courses will be able to implant microchips. Docked puppies can still only be chipped by a vet, or a vet nurse under a vet’s supervision.
Breeders will be expected to give microchipping paperwork to puppy buyers, who must then contact the microchip database to add their details. Many people have expressed concern that this will add extra costs, however the Kennel Club (KC) will be offering the first change of keeper details free when, if the puppy is KC registered, the buyer transfers KC registration to their name. The chip is then registered on the Petlog database. No puppy or adult dog can be transferred to a new keeper unless it has been microchipped after 6 April, or has a vet’s certificate stating it is unfit to be microchipped. Much like your car logbook, it is important that the microchip is registered to the keeper of the dog, which may not be the same as the owner. The keeper is considered to be the person with whom the dog normally lives (with exceptions for guide dogs and assistance dogs), so it may be necessary to change the registered details if a dog goes for residential training. Dogs will still be required to wear collars bearing the owner’s name and address when in public, unless working as gundogs, sheepdogs, etc.
It remains unclear how the new legislation will be enforced, except that authorised people (dog wardens, police officers, community support officers) will be able to serve notices on people who have not chipped their dogs, requiring them to do so within 21 days. Failure to comply could result in the dog being chipped at the owner’s expense, or in the dog being seized.
Vets and dog charities have been offering free or low-cost microchipping over the last few years, in preparation for the new legislation. Expect your vet to scan your dogs at routine visits (though it won’t be compulsory for them to do so), and to advise you of the law if they find your dog is not chipped. However, client confidentiality means that they won’t be turning in owners who don’t chip their dogs.
Microchips must meet a specific standard