Many pets go missing every year and, sadly, many are never reunited with their owners.
But there is a simple solution. Identifying pets with a microchip gives the best chance of reuniting owners with their pets, should they get lost. The 2011 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found that 30% of dogs and 54% of cats are still not microchipped.
A microchip is PDSA's recommended form of permanent identification, and should be used together with a collar and tag for dogs.
A microchip is a harmless radio chip about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected under the skin of your pet in the same way as a routine vaccination. Microchipping is a permanent way of proving that you are the owner of a pet.
Each microchip contains a unique identification number. Details about both pet and owner are kept on a database. If a lost pet is found, the chip can be scanned and the information quickly accessed. All PDSA PetAid hospitals have scanners, as do local authorities, dog wardens, animal rehoming centres and private veterinary practices.
After a pet is microchipped, the owner is responsible for contacting the database to update details e.g. if they move house. This information is vital for reuniting pets and their owners in future.
Microchipping is commonly used in dogs, cats, horses and several other species as the most effective method of permanent identification.
PDSA, along with many other animal welfare charities, assistance dog charities, veterinary organisations and dog membership organisations, is a member of the Microchipping Alliance which wants to make microchipping compulsory for all dogs. This is because microchipping dogs has a number of benefits for animal welfare and society as a whole.
Benefits of microchipping
Tackling stray dogs
The most important reason for microchipping is to enable a lost or straying dog to be returned promptly to its owner. In 2010/11 over 126,000 stray dogs were collected by UK local authorities. Of these, over half (52%) could not be returned to their owners because they were unidentifiable. Sadly, a proportion of these dogs were put to sleep and many others had a lengthy stay in kennels, away from their owner or family. Aside from the impact on the welfare of these dogs, paying for this kennelling costs the tax payer and animal welfare charities over £21 million per year.
Identifying owners who persistently allow their dog to stray or cause nuisance
Irresponsible owners may not be meeting their dog’s welfare needs, as required by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Being able to identify such owners allows them to be advised of their responsibilities and further action taken if necessary.
Tracing puppies to breeders
Puppy farming is still a major animal welfare problem. Compulsory microchipping allows puppy farms to be more easily identified and dealt with.
Improving dog health
There is a high incidence of inherited diseases within some breeds of pedigree dogs. Efforts are being made to tackle these health problems, but reporting hereditary health problems and measuring progress would be much easier if all dogs were uniquely identified with a microchip.
Helping vets to contact owners in an emergency
Detecting a microchip allows vets to swiftly contact owners if a pet has been admitted as an emergency.
Tackling animal cruelty and dangerous dogs
When an animal has been the victim of cruelty, a microchip assists in identifying the owner and bringing them to justice. Similarly, when a dog is used for threat and intimidation, microchipping assists with holding the dog’s owner to account.
Microchipping your pet could make the difference between your pet being lost permanently and a happy reunion.
If your pet is not microchipped, contact your vet today to book an appointment.
Collar and tag
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that all dogs must wear a collar and identity tag when in a public place.
The tag must show the name and address of the owner. Even when microchipped, a dog must wear this identification. Owners can be fined up to £5,000 if they fail to comply with this. However, a collar and tag alone can be lost or removed, which is why PDSA also recommends microchipping as a microchip is virtually impossible to alter or remove. Cats do not have to wear collars, and microchipping is the recommended method of identification for cats. If a collar is used for cats it should be a 'quick release' type because cat collars can catch on branches outside. Vets see terrible injures where this has happened.
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