Requiring all dog owners to micro-chip their pet
The Government has today (Monday) announced plans to consult on new legislation that would make micro chipping of dogs compulsory for all owners.
This would allow the police and local authorities to trace owners if their dogs have been involved in an attack and also enable animal charities like the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs Home to trace the owners of lost or abandoned pets.
Since January 2009 Wandsworth Council has insisted that all residents living on its housing estates have their dogs microchipped. To date, 2,270 dogs whose owners live on local housing estates have been chipped and registered. In addition to this, the council has also chipped and registered a further 2,000 dogs on a voluntary basis from other borough residents.
The council has been calling on ministers to introduce new rules on dog ownership since 2007, in a bid to tackle the growing problem caused by irresponsible owners.
The council's ideas have included strengthening the dog licence regime and introducing competency tests for owners, as well as compulsory microchipping. A "competency test" would make dog owners prove they had the skills to handle their animals – "akin to the driving theory test".
The council has also supported calls for the introduction of a reasonable charge for a dog licence. This could be set at a level that would not put off genuine dog lovers but would deter anyone who sees their dog as just a temporary "fashion accessory".
The money generated by the new licence fee would be ploughed back into running the scheme and ensuring it was properly enforced.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said:
“We welcome today’s announcement on microchipping. It is vitally important that organisations like the police can trace the owner of a dog if it has been involved in an attack on a person or someone else’s family pet.
“Our experience has been that on our housing estates at least, where we have been able to enforce this rule, complaints about dog attacks have fallen dramatically as owners know they can be easily traced if they cause problems.
“In areas where this tenancy rule has not applied, the police have not always been able to hold owners properly responsible for the behaviour of their dogs because they have not been in a position to prove who the dog belongs to. This could now change. If compulsory microchipping is approved, it would also mean that strays and lost dogs could be returned to their owners without any delay and without incurring expensive kennelling costs for local authorities and charities.
“What the Government also needs to look at is the idea of a much tougher dog licence. This could be a proper test of skill and suitability that would weed out unsuitable owners and those who just think of dogs as a temporary fashion accessory. This would focus attention on those dogs – and owners – who cause the most trouble, and provide the income to properly support the dog control teams that are needed around the country.”
People with concerns about the way a dog is being treated in Wandsworth can report these in confidence to the council's Dog Control Service (020) 8871 7606. For information on the work of the council’s dog control unit visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/dogs.
April 23, 2012