Owners will be forced to install the microchip containing a barcode that can store their pet's name, breed, age and health along with their own address and phone number.
The barcode's details would then be stored on a national database which local councils could access in a bid to easily identify an owners pet. The new scheme, supported by the Tories and Labour, is designed to curb the trade in stolen dogs, prevent the use of animals in anti-social or violent incidents and reduce the record number of stray dogs being found on British streets. If an owner failed to insert a chip, at an estimated cost of about £10, they could be fined or face the possibility of having their pet taken away. The chip would be installed once but if the owners personal details change the information on the database can be changed.
The chip, said to be the size of a rice granule, is implanted into the pet either behind the ears or between the shoulder blades. Experts say the procedure is relatively painless for the animal and is over in a matter of seconds.
The plans, to be unveiled at the next election, were backed by animal charities, who say it was a quick, cheap and painless way of keeping tabs on animals. The scheme, which is already being successfully piloted by the Conservative-run Wandsworth Council, would be phased in gradually to provide enough time for owners to comply with the changes. The south London council has made it compulsory for its council tenants with dogs to microchip their animals and to place details on a database and has urged other residents to ensure their animal is fitted with such a device.
Latest figures from the Dogs Trust charity show almost 108,000 stray dogs were found over the 12 months to March this year, an increase of 11 per cent, as the recession led to more animals being dumped or put down by their owners. It found that almost a third of stray dogs were returned to their owners with the help of microchips. There have been several recent examples of owners being reunited with their pets, sometimes after several years, largely in part due to the animal being fitted with microchips. One high profile example was when Bruce Forsyth's daughter, Debbie Matthews, had her Yorkshire terriers snatched from the back of her BMW while she went shopping. They were foiled after vets established their real identity, after they were sold, as they both had microchips beneath their skin.
Andrew Rosindell, the Conservatives animal welfare spokesman, said the scheme needed to be cheap and simple to ensure owners complied with it. The MP for Romford said it would help animal pounds across the country becoming inundated with stray dogs while also helping identify irresponsible pet owners. If a dog goes missing, whether it is stolen or gets lost it can be identified very quickly, he said. If a dog is used to commit an offence or is used in a violent way the owner can be held responsible.
Ian Cawsey, the vice chairman of the Labour Party, was said to have been asked by Gordon Brown to draw up some fresh animal welfare policies. He said the scheme, which would be at the heart of Labours animal welfare proposals, was vital to help keep track of animals. We believe it is the best form of identification that a dog owner can have, an RSPCA spokesman said. It is a quick, cheap and painless method and the best way we can help trace them back to that dog.
A Dogs Trust spokeswoman added: We are very supportive of compulsory micro chipping dogs. It is a worrying problem and despite our best efforts there are still stray dogs being found. (London Telegraph, 9.28.2009) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6237084/All-dogs-to-be-microchipped-with-owners-details-to-help-track-pets.html