GUEST COLUMN: Microchip law comes in soon, by Rachel Butler RSPCA

From April 6, all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales will have to be microchipped. In Northern ireland, it is already a legal requirement.

From April 6, all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales will have to be microchipped. In Northern ireland, it is already a legal requirement.

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Every time I see a post on Facebook about a lost pet, it breaks my heart.

As an owner of two dogs, I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache which comes with losing your pet.

Sometimes, though, you hear about the happy endings when the owner is reunited with their pet. And thanks to microchipping, this is something which can happen more often these days than 20 years ago.

From April 6, microchipping for dogs will become law.

Up until now it has been optional, but the RSPCA believes compulsory microchipping is a step in the right direction and, if implemented effectively, could lead to significant benefits to dog owners and their pets - for example reuniting them more quickly if they become lost or stray.

So what is microchipping? Basically, it is a quick procedure where a vet inserts a tiny chip under the skin, and each chip has it’s own unique code.

The animal can then be scanned and matched to the owner’s details which are held on databases.

Each chip has a unique number and each number is logged alongside the owner’s contact details. This means that if your dog goes missing or is stolen and is later found, he can be scanned and your contact details will come up.

Any dog over the age of eight weeks will be legally required to be microchipped and registered to an approved database by April 6. A dog is only exempt from being microchipped if a vet certifies in writing that it cannot be microchipped for health reasons.

If your dog is not microchipped and is not registered on an approved database then you could be served with a notice ordering you to microchip your dog.

You have 21 days to do so or you may be liable to pay a £500 fine and could face criminal prosecution.

If your contact details change and you do not update your details on the database, then you could also receive a notice and may be liable to pay a fine of £500.

You should contact your local vets to arrange for your dog to be microchipped.

The vet will use a microchip assigned to a specific database, such as www.petlog.org.uk or www.anibase.com, and you must then ensure that your latest contact details are registered on the database.

If you haven’t done this yet then make sure you do - and let’s hope that one day those heartbreaking lost dog Facebook posts will become a thing of the past.

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