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Already the case in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK will soon be set to follow suit. The chances are that your dog is already chipped, but the aim of introducing this secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is to encourage responsible dog ownership and improve animal welfare. It will help to reunite lost or stolen dogs with their owners quickly and efficiently, and discourage puppy farming.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted under the skin by a vet or trained microchip implanter. The chip contains a unique 15 digit code which shows up when the dog is scanned. All puppies should be microchipped and registered on an authorised microchip database (such as Petlog) by the age of 8 weeks, and it is the responsibility of the owner to keep all registered details up to date.
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It may be difficult to enforce this new law, as vets are not required to do this, but they may report non-compliance to an enforcement officer if they have any concerns. Once the new rules come into effect, if a dog without a microchip comes to the attention of the authorities, its keeper may be served with a notice requiring the dog to be microchipped, and may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if they do not comply with the notice. If this notice is ignored then a fine of up to £500 can be issued or an enforcer can seize the dog and microchip it at the keeper’s expense. In addition, if the breeder or subsequent keepers of the dog do not update the dog’s details on a database that is compliant with the regulations, then a notice may be served requiring the keeper to microchip the dog within 21 days of the served notice.
So it’s worth checking that your pet’s details are up to date on the database – have you got a new mobile number? Have you moved and forgotten to change your details? But don’t forget it is still the law that all dogs should wear a collar and tag, with their owner’s name, address and telephone number on it.