EVERY dog in East Lothian could be microchipped under plans being considered as part of a crackdown on dog fouling.
The plan to implant each dog in the region with the £35 chip free of charge would make East Lothian the first Scottish local authority to implement a blanket policy on microchipping.
Incentives such as free dog health checks could be offered in partnership with animal charity PDSA in an attempt to tempt owners to enrol their dogs in the voluntary scheme.
Compulsory microchipping, such as that carried out in Northern Ireland since January 2013, would require the passing of national legislation. Scottish ministers recently consulted on the matter and will issue a response in the coming months.
However, council chiefs and dog wardens believe that even a voluntary scheme could result in a dramatic reduction in the number of fines issued for dog fouling as owners become more easily identifiable.
East Lothian amenity officer Carl Howman also explained that it would mean stray dogs could be returned to owners with a warning.
He added: “If they stray a second time they will be taken to the cat and dog home, and the owners will have to pay to get them back.”
A report before East Lothian Council’s policy and performance review committee last week revealed the move was one initiative being considered.
Environment convener Norman Hampshire said: “The matter of microchipping dogs was suggested as a way to tackle dog fouling. However, without national legislation the council does not have the power to enforce it, therefore, such a scheme could only be voluntary. It’s a matter we hope to discuss further in future.”
Despite lacking teeth in the form of compulsory microchipping the scheme has been heralded as a “bold approach” by Andrew Hogg, senior vet at Edinburgh PDSA hospital.
He said: “Microchipping doesn’t just help in returning stray dogs to their owners but also tackles the issues of dog attacks and dog theft. In terms of dog fouling, a minority of owners will allow their dogs to run free and foul. This scheme could help combat this by making owners more easily contactable. In terms of incentivising owners to take part, then free healthchecks whilst getting your dog chipped could work.
“Costs of microchipping a dog vary but it is relatively cheap and a very quick procedure to perform, it’s like a big jag injection really.”
According to the PDSA Scotland’s Animal Wellbeing report 49 per cent of pets are microchipped, compared with 62 per cent in England and 55 per cent in Wales. In Edinburgh, 63 per cent of pets are microchipped. The UK national average is 61 per cent.