Government plans for compulsory dog microchips

As a vet I can’t recommend microchips highly enough.  I’ve seen so many grateful owners reunited with their pets through microchips, and too many times I’ve  watched the clock ticking by as dogs  and cats lie injured whilst we try desperately to find their owners. Without the owner to give consent, and tell us what their wishes are for their pet, vets can only administer pain relief and other first aid.

The process for finding an owner is so simple when a pet is microchipped, we simply phone up a central database give them the number on the microchip and they provide us with contact details of the owner and their vet.  Even if we can’t get hold of the owner we can always get hold of the vet practice, at least then we have the medical history and by talking to their vet we can make an educated guess as to what the owner would want. When the pet doesn’t have a microchip its sometimes hard to know where to start the difficult process of tracking down the owner.

Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are inserted under the skin with a needle, its the same process as a routine vaccination although the needle is a little bigger. In about 50% of dogs, especially puppies,  it seems to be slightly painful for a few seconds, this doesn’t last for long and its likely to be just the shock of a slight stinging sensation, if you are really worried about this you can ask for the microchip to be inserted whilst you pet is under anaesthetic for neutering.  Once the microchip is inserted I would always recommend going back to the vets after 2 weeks to check its still in place, at this point the microchip is there for good, all you have to do is update the microchip company if your contact details change. The cost is usually between £15 and £30 and will depend on your location and what offers the practice has running.  I think that is pretty good value when you consider that your dog’s details will be on the database for life with the phone service that all these companies provide.

Should it be made compulsory? Well I believe microchipping your dog  is something every responsible owner should be doing anyway so that leaves the irresponsible ones, maybe they do need the nudge in the right direction that the government is suggesting. My concerns are about the detail;  how it will be enforced, for example, if you don’t keep your contact details up to date  the microchip is useless.  In principle its great idea but the realities of legislating and enforcement will be crucial in the success of any compulsory microchip scheme for dogs.

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