In a statement released this week the Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, says it strongly believes that the time is right to introduce compulsory microchipping in Scotland.
The trust has welcomed a consultation by the Scottish Government on the issue.
The trust statement states: “In 2013 there were 3,525 stray or lost dogs picked up by Scottish Local Authorities.
“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.
“It is important to remember, that the microchip number on its own is meaningless – owners must register their details with an appropriate database 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. The act of microchipping is also a key intervention, providing an opportunity to advise owners about responsible dog ownership.
“There is also no need for microchipping to pose a financial burden on dog owners – chipping is provided for free at Dogs Trust’s two Scottish rehoming centres in Glasgow and West Calder, and if compulsory microchipping is introduced in Scotland, we will provide free chips widely for a set time period to ensure that no dog owner is left behind. Dogs Trust has held over 46 microchipping events in Scotland since September 2013, chipping 1,951 dogs.
“With compulsory microchipping already implemented successfully in Northern Ireland, due to be introduced in England in 2016 and in Wales in 2015, we welcome the Scottish Consultation on this issue.
“Dogs Trust recommends compulsory microchipping as the most effective means of registration as well as identification of a dog. Unlike the dog licence, which involves an annual fee, microchipping involves just a small one-off fee. The benefit to responsible owners and their dogs is therefore relatively cheap and effective. Dogs Trust believes that the dog licence is simply a tax on dog ownership.
“While Dogs Trust advocates the use of muzzles with certain dogs where necessary, we would never recommend muzzling all dogs at all times as a precautionary measure because of the restrictive effect this can have on a dog’s ability to express natural behaviours.
“The use of muzzles should only ever be seen as a safety measure in exceptional cases and not be relied on to ‘fix’ or prevent a potential problem. Muzzles should always be the right size and type for the dog and should be introduced in a way that encourages positive feelings for the dog.
“If an owner is concerned that their dog may pose a problem we would recommend seeking advice from a reputable behaviourist to help overcome that particular issue.”
Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with a network of eighteen rehoming centres throughout the UK, including Glasgow and West Calder, all working to provide a happy home for thousands of dogs every year. We believe that no healthy dog should ever be destroyed.