Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, strongly believes that the time is right to introduce compulsory microchipping in Scotland.
In 2012, there were 4524 stray or lost dogs picked up by Scottish Local Authorities, of which 1990 could not be reunited with their owners.
Microchipping has a number of welfare benefits – the most important being the ability to rapidly identify a stray or lost dog and return it to its owner. We believe compulsory microchipping could help reduce the burden on animal welfare charities such as Dogs Trust and reduce the cost to local authorities of kennelling stray dogs.
The microchip alone is meaningless – owners must register and Dogs Trust would like to see a legal requirement to ensure owners keep their details up to date.
Microchipping will not prevent dog attacks. However, it will help enforcement agencies identify the owner of a dangerous dog much more easily. The act of microchipping also provides an opportunity to advise owners about responsible dog ownership.
There is also no need for microchipping to pose a financial burden – chipping is provided for free at Dogs Trust’s two Scottish rehoming centres in Glasgow and West Calder.
With compulsory microchipping already implemented successfully in Northern Ireland, due to be introduced in England in 2016, and under consultation in Wales, we fear that Scotland is falling behind. The time to act is now, and Dogs Trust welcomes the Scottish Labour Party’s commitment to promoting this important issue.
• Laura Vallance is public affairs manager for Dogs Trust