All dogs in England must be microchipped by 2016 under a new law announced by Britain's Environment Department on Wednesday, February 4, 2013. Any owner who does not comply will be subject to a fine of up to £500 pounds (USD $800), according to news.sky.com.
The law will actually go into effect on April 6, 2015, but provides dogowners a grace period until April 6, 2016, to have their dogs implanted with a chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice and is a painless procedure.
The purpose of the new law is threefold: (1) lost or stolen dogs can be more easily united with their owners; (2) the positive identification of the owner will act as a deterrent from abandonment, neglect, abuse or otherwise not providing for the welfare of owned dogs; and (3) microchipping will reduce the numbers of animals entering the shelter and the emotional, physical and financial costs of caring for unwanted/stray animals and trying to either locate the owner or rehome them.
Every year approximately 110,000 dogs are lost or abandoned in the UK, and around half are unidentifiable.The cost to provide sheltering and adoption services by the RSCPA is around £ 60 million per year (USD $94 million,) which is paid by taxpayers and animal charities, according to msnbc.com..
Around 6,000 dogs are put down each year, according to guardian.co.uk. In accomplishing the goals of the new law, it is hoped euthanasia of homeless pets would be significantly reduced.
The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, said: “I am determined to put an end to this and ease the pressure on charities and councils to find new homes for these dogs."
Microchipping can be done by a private vet, states guardian.co.uk, but the animal welfare charities, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs Home, and the Blue Cross, will provide a free microchip for any unchipped dog.
The Environment Department says 60 percent of Britain's 8 million pet dogs already have microchips. Horse owners have had to chip their animals since 2009, according to the Associated Press; and many British pet owners have already chipped pet cats and rabbits. Microchipping will remain optional for cats.
NEW LAWS TARGET DANGEROUS DOGS/ATTACKS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
Paterson also announced new laws will address dangerous dogs and extend police powers on dog attacks to cover incidents on private property. Currently, those whose animals injure people on private land escape prosecution, guardian.co.uk reports.
In the last year alone more than 3,000 postal workers were attacked by out of control dogs, and 70% of those attacks were on private property.
Homeowners will still be protected from prosecution if their dog attacks a burglar or trespasser on their property.
MORE PREVENTIVE LAWS NEEDED, BRITISH ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS SAY
The Blue Cross, a registered UK animal welfare charity, founded in 1897, warned that there should be preventive rules concerning potentially dangerous dogs, allowing authorities to act after signs of "antisocial behaviour" but before any attack, news.sky.com states..
The RSPCA stated that more preventative measures are needed to improve animal welfare.
David Bowles, head of public affairs, said: "Compulsory microchipping and extending the law to cover private property as well as public spaces is a welcome move. However, We believe preventive measures, such as dog control notices, are required as well as dog registration to improve dog owners' accountability, deter casual acquirers of dogs, and fund owner education services."
"Early intervention with owners prevents suffering to animals as well as protects public safety where owners fail to control their dogs," he emphasized.