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Dogs And Microchips

All dogs to be microchipped
Parent Category: Dog Talk
Created: 06 January 2015

Hard to believe that so many dogs are abandoned, go missing or are stolen and that if only they were micro-​chipped and contact details registered on one of the free databases, then more of them could be reunited with their owners.

In the UK, the Government brought in “compulsory micro-​chipping for all dogs from 6 April 2016 to help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership.” If your dog is found not to have a chip you can face a fine of up to £500.*

The aim is to tackle the problem of ‘stray’ dogs and related burden and costs involved in dealing with them — these costs are not just incurred by local authorities but also by charities.

This measure is just one of a few being introduced to enable pet owners to be traced and promote public safety — see also “Dogs Can’t Chose Their Owners” which provides information about fines for dog owners whose dogs are considered dangerous, and how owners are no longer off the hook if a dog attack or threat of dog attack takes place on private land!

Millions of dogs are lost each year and few are reunited, most end up in shelters where thy may be adopted by new families… tragically many lost dogs are never found!

In the USA, at the time or writing, it is estimated that around 10,000 pets per month are reunited with their owners via their microchips (source: Animal Health Foundation).

Micro-​chipping is an easy way to ensure that your pet can be identified… even though they are required by law, tags and collars can get caught and pulled off, fall off or be removed, whereas a microchip is permanent and offers the best chance of you being reunited with your dog if they go missing.

A microchip IS NOT a tracking device but it is a guarantee that your dog is identifiable if found. Virtually all vets and reputable shelters are equipped to scan lost dogs and in the UK the Kennel Club is donating a scanner to all local authorities.

You will know that it only takes a few seconds, when your back is turned and there is either a gap in the fence, or a door or gate is open, for your dog to wander off, more than likely exploring new smells that have attracted their attention — or genuinely following the urge to escape into the wider world. It is also possible that your dog might run off if it is scared and when this happens, especially in an environment your dog is unfamiliar with, they might easily become lost. If this has happened to you (and it has certainly happened to us) then you know how upsetting it can be, even if it is only a very short time before you find your furry friend!

A micro-​chip is a tiny computer chip sealed inside a tiny bio-​compatible glass capsule, the whole thing is about the size of a large grain of rice — it has no battery, power supply or moving parts — it simply contains a unique number that cannot be altered or duplicated. The number can be registered with one or several databases and in the event your dog goes missing and is found by someone who takes it to a vet, rescue centre, animal hospital, humane society or other animal control organisation, it would be scanned and the number would be used to track the owner.

It is a very quick and simple process to implant the microchip. It is usually done by a vet. This is normally injected into a dog in between the shoulder blades using a hypodermic needle and, although the needle will be bigger than a typical vaccine needle, it is unlikely to cause your dog any more discomfort than any other vaccination. Most dogs will not even feel it being implanted and they will certainly not be able to fee that it is there once it is in place.

There will be no scarring and there are not normally any after effects. Once inside your dog, the microchip is quickly anchored in place by thin layer of connective tissue that will naturally form around it — it will not move around the body. No one will be able to locate it by touch, even in very small breeds of dog.

The microchip can be detected using a handheld scanning device that uses radio waves to read the chip and displays the unique alphanumeric code.

If you intend to travel internationally with your pet, most countries will require that they have a microchip and certainly in Europe a pet passport recording the number of the chip is a routine requirement in some countries.

The cost of micro-​chipping your dog by the vet can be up to around £40 in the UK and $50 in the USA.

If you want to be proactive about keeping your dog safe then keeping your contact details updated on a micro-​chip register is certainly high on the list of things to do. In fact it is no use unless you register your chip with one or more databases, so that if your dog is lost and someone scans the microchip, they can trace you (and don’t forget to update the database records with any change address or if you sell/​give your dog to someone else). The details recorded in the database will include your name, address and emergency telephone number.

Don’t worry your contact details will not be given out by the database holder until appropriate security checks have been carried out.

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Be Safe With Your Dogs!

* see this press release from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, "All Dogs in England to get free microchips" (published on 6 February 2013, as part of their information, policies and laws on "Protecting animal welfare" and "Wildlife and animal welfare"). Although this article says "England" it applies to the whole UK.
** if your dog is lost, see this http://www.pettheft.co.uk/advice.php