Microchipping of dogs - has your pet been done?

By Pete Wedderburn - Animal Doctor

Published 08/09/2015 | 00:00

Microchips are the best way to permanently identify pets
Microchips are the best way to permanently identify pets
Microchips are the best way to permanently identify pets

Microchipping provide the best way to locate an owner if a pet becomes lost or displaced. For the last decade, it has been recognised that responsible owners should microchip their pet dogs (and cats), just as they vaccinate, worm and neuter them.

For some time, animal welfare groups in Ireland have been calling for compulsory microchipping as the next step towards solving the stray dog problem. When this measure has been put into place in other parts of the world, such as New South Wales in Australia, there has been a rapid and dramatic reduction in the number of stray dogs being euthanased in dog pounds. If it works elsewhere, why not here?

Other groups have also supported the concept. Farmers like the idea because it will mean that when livestock are attacked by dogs, the owner will be more easily held accountable. Dog bite victims support the idea because it will make it clearer who is responsible for a dog's actions. And government animal health workers believe that microchipping will make it possible to trace a dog's origins and movements, which would be extremely helpful in the event of an outbreak of serious disease such as rabies.

The government listened to these groups, and in June 2015, the Microchipping Of Dogs Regulations 2015 were signed into law by Simon Coveney, the Minister of Agriculture, under the powers granted to him by the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. Last week, on 1st September, the first phase of the regulations came into effect, with the compulsory microchipping of all puppies.

In essence, the new law means that before being sold or given to a new home, all puppies must now be identified by implantation of a microchip and registration on an approved database. Puppies are not now allowed to leave their place of birth without being microchipped unless it is for the specific purpose of being transported to a registered veterinary premises to be microchipped and registered. Alternatively, a vet or vet nurse may visit the home of the puppies to carry out microchipping on site.

This means that a new puppy owner should no longer be able to purchase a puppy that is not already implanted with a microchip and registered on an approved database. You must also receive a change of ownership form from the person selling or giving you the pup. You are obliged to complete this form, and send it to the database with a small fee. In return, you will be sent a registration certificate for the puppy which you will keep for its lifetime. If you pass the dog on to someone else (for money, or as a gift), you (and the new owner) will again be obliged to complete a change of ownership form. In this way, the current ownership of a dog will always be clearly defined.

The new law imposes a significant change for people breeding dogs, even if it's just a pet dog at home having a one-off litter of pups. The bottom line is that if you are producing pups, you must microchip and register the pups before they can be sold. While this will add a cost that will be reflected in a higher price for puppies, it will create a more structured, organised population of dogs in this country. In the long term, this will result in less neglect, abandonment and suffering of dogs.

Compulsory microchipping of puppies is just the first phase: from the 31st March 2016, the new regulations will apply to all dogs, regardless of age. In practice, this means that during the next six months, all dog owners should confirm with their own vet that their dog is microchipped and registered on an approved database. It's easy and free to check that this is the case: to find out how, just phone your local vet clinic.

If this check confirms that your dog has already been "done", then no other action is needed.

If, on the other hand, your pet is not microchipped, you need to get this done during the next six months. And if your pet has been microchipped but is not registered on one of the approved databases, then you need to take the necessary steps to organise registration. Again, your local vet will show you how to do it.

Microchipping has now become an official procedure that involves specific paperwork to ensure that all dogs are properly linked to owners. When registering a microchip, vets and nurses must certify that they have inspected two important documents from the dog owner:

1) Some type of photographic identification (e.g. driver's licence or passport)

2) A utility bill issued within the previous three months, confirming the owner's address.

Without these documents, microchipping cannot take place, so it's important to be prepared before going to the vet. Once a dog is microchipped and registered, the database will issue a certificate to the owner.

This month - September - is "National Chipping Month", and it's the ideal time to bring your pet's microchip status up to date. Microchipping is being offered at discounted rates in an effort to be as inclusive to as many people as possible.

Is your dog chipped and registered? If not, this is the time to get it done.

Visit www.ncm.ie to find out more about National Chipping Month

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