In April 2016 it will become law in England for all dogs to be microchipped. The new law comes about due to the implementation of The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 which come in to force on 06 April 2016. This legislation brings England in line with Wales and Northern Ireland where it is already law to ensure all dogs are microchipped. Scotland is due to implement its own microchipping legislation in April 2016 also.

Keepers of dogs in England who fail to have their dogs microchipped could fall foul of the law and see themselves receive a criminal conviction by being prosecuted in the Magistrates Court, fined and further ordered to pay costs and surcharges.

Certain dogs are exempted from being microchipped such as those under 8 weeks old, dogs certified as working dogs under s.6(3) Animal Welfare Act 2006 (policing , armed forces, emergency services, pest control and hunting) and dogs which have been certified as unfit for microchipping (this must be done by a vet on a special form).

It is the responsibility of the dog’s keeper (not owner) to ensure their dog is microchipped. Therefore breeders must ensure that all their dogs are mirochipped before ownership is passed on to another party.  If you acquire a dog from a breeder or elsewhere the best advice to ensure that you, as the new keeper of the animal, do not inadvertently fall foul of this criminal legislation is to satisfy yourself that the dog is properly microchipped. You can do this by asking to see the microchip certificate which will contain the following information:

• the full name and address of the keeper
• where applicable, the fact that the keeper is also the breeder
• if the keeper is the breeder and is licensed by the local authority under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
• the breeder’s licence number
• the name of the local authority by which they are licensed
• the original name or identification number given to the dog
• the contact telephone number (if any) for the keeper
• the name given to the dog by the keeper
• the sex of the dog
• the breed of the dog, or a description if it is a cross-breed
• the colour of the dog
• the most accurate estimate of the dog’s date of birth which the keeper is capable of giving; and
• the unique number of the microchip implanted in the dog.

It is also the responsibility of the keeper of the dog to ensure that all these details are kept up to date. Therefore if the keeper’s details change then the microchip must be updated. It is in the interest of the outgoing keeper to ensure this is done on or immediately before keepership is passed over.

The purpose of this legislation is to assist the authorities with reuniting dogs with owners in the event that they become separated. It is also to assist law enforcement to identify the keepers and, ultimately,  those with criminal responsibility for dogs that are deemed to be dangerous, dangerously out of control or which ought to be made subject to control orders. This could see more dog owners prosecuted and more dogs destroyed courtesy of the Dogs Act 1871 and Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Anyone who finds themselves in a position where they are being prosecuted or their dog is being threatened with a control order or destruction is strongly urged to seek the advice of a specialist solicitor.

In the meantime we only have until 06 April to get our dogs microchipped and it is estimated that there are over 1 million dogs who have still not been microchipped! Microchipping can be carried out at your local vets and costs from £10-£30 - some are even offering the service free of charge. My dog had his done this week, he didn’t flinch and we were in and out in about 5 minutes. Overall it appears to be a relatively pain free and stress free experience for both dog and owner/keeper.

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