From 6th April 2016 it will be a legal requirement to have all dogs microchipped and keep the owner’s details up to date on the microchip database. Everyone would agree that this is a responsible step. The chip must be implanted before the dog is 8 weeks old so will probably be done with the first vaccination, usually at 6- 8 weeks old. There will still be the requirement to have a collar and address tag. The chip contains a number which can be read by a scanner, however at the moment there is no requirement for anyone to scan dogs. The owner registers their details on a database which is linked to this number so when the chip is read, the scanner can phone the database and access the details held. There are currently three different databases and they do not communicate so they cannot give you details of a chip registered on a different database, although they can tell you which one it is. There is no easy to use online database of all the chips so at the moment at least one, sometimes two, phone calls have to be made.
The other big problem is that as people move house, change phones or rehome the dog, if the database details are not kept up to date then it can be impossible to find the dog’s owner. At the moment 40% of dogs picked up by dog wardens have incomplete or wrong details registered to their chips.
It is still not clear who is going to police the system. If your dog strays or ends up at a vets if it is involved in a road accident, then scanning and a couple of phone calls should reunite him or her with you. This saves kennel space, speeds treatment and avoids unclaimed dogs facing euthanasia. Permanent identification also helps identify pedigree dogs as we try and breed out inherited defects as well as assists in cases of stolen and neglected dogs. Microchips allow us to identify dogs for Pet Passports and for cats they allow microchip controlled cat flaps and delayed feeding bowls.
However, vets are not required to scan every new pet that is brought to them, even if we did we would then have to phone one or two databases, get the details of who the dog is registered to, check them against the person who has brought the dog in, and then what do we do if they are not the same details? and what happens to the dog? Vets are required by law to report any chips that have moved from the implantation site (there is no specification of how far they should have moved before we report them), any chips that are not working (how would we know they were there in the first place if they don’t work?) and any adverse reactions to the chips such as infection.
For small breeds, injecting the chip can be traumatic in young puppies but they usually ‘forget’ the experience quickly although it may make them suspicious of the vets for ever! Smaller microchips are being developed but they are more expensive at the moment.
At Withy Grove we scan your pet first to make sure it isn’t already microchipped, then after implantation we can register your chip to the database directly over the internet.