Microchipping of dogs will become law in three months' time - but why are owners being asked to comply?
Here's 7 reasons why you should get your dog chipped, ahead of the practice becoming compulsory in England, Scotland and Wales on April 6. It's already a legal requirement in Northern Ireland.
1. A microchip provides vets with all the information required to reunite stray or lost dogs with owners.
Microchipping a dog is an easy and harmless procedure and provides your pet with a form of identification that lasts a lifetime.
Each chip has its own code which is revealed when scanned by a vet, which correlate to the owner’s details on a database.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says the most common reason (71%) vets cannot reunite missing dogs with their owner is due to a lack of an identifier.
2. If you move, and you become separated from your dog, you can still be reunited.
It's also part of the new legal requirement that when you move, or change your contact details, the new information is provided to the microchip database.
Sean Wensley, President of the BVA, said: “It’s essential, and part of the new legal requirement, that details on the microchip database, such as a change of address and contact numbers, are kept up to date by owners.
"It’s not uncommon for vets in practice to see pets with out-of-date information that they are then unable to reunite with their worried owners.”
3. It will help to tackle puppy farming.
All dogs being traceable to their breeder will help reduce the problem of puppy farming, and reduce the incidence of infectious disease and inherited defects from which many of these animals suffer.
4. It will help combat the problem of dog theft.
Even if a dog has a collar and name tag, these are easy for a would-be thief to remove. A microchip is permanent, so will go a long way towards combating dog theft.
5. It will encourage responsible dog ownership.
Microchipping will mean easier identification of owners who persistently allow their dogs to stray or cause nuisance.
It will also make it easier for the authorities easier to identify, arrest and potentially prosecute owners culpable of animal cruelty.
6. You're breaking the law if you don't do it.
Microchipping costs between £10-£30 per dog, which will usually have to be borne by the owner.
Some animal charities, such as the Dogs Trust and Blue Cross, offer a free microchipping service to owners. Check HERE where you can have it done for free.
Current figures suggest that less than 60% of all dogs are microchipped.
Under the new legislation, failure to have a dog microchipped or not updating database details will lead to a fine of up to £500.
If a keeper of a dog which is not microchipped gets served with a notice requiring them to have the dog chipped, they will have 21 days to do it.
7. Compulsory microchipping will save us a fortune.
It is estimated that microchipping all dogs will save at least £20million a year - in reduced local authority kennelling costs, animal welfare organisation costs, fewer dogs having to be put to sleep, and extra income from administration charges recouped from the owners of stray dogs.
* More information on the incoming legislation, as well as posters for veterinary reception areas, can be found HERE.