So here in Wales all dogs are going to have to be microchipped by 2015.
I do wonder if this is going to be enforced; indications are that “local authorities” will be tasked with enforcement. I also wonder whether it will only be enforced when something happens (such as the dog going stray and turning up at the dog warden) or whether there will be more active enforcement of dog wardens and police scanning dogs as they walk in the park.
I can understand the attraction of microchipping as the focus for legislation: it is cheap, effective in what it does, and there is a low risk of things going wrong.
It will reduce, but not solve, the problem of stray dogs.
However, you don’t have to be doing this job very long before you come up against the brick wall of incorrect, outdated, or otherwise useless database entries. Keeping database entries up to date is an active process and has to be done whenever someone changes their mobile phone or moves home, let alone passes ownership of a dog on to someone else.
A practice I used to work at promoted microchipping in a different way, by combining it with their vaccines. No questions, no compulsion, just every puppy (and kitten) in for their first vaccinations got microchipped in with the cost. Only a very small number of people (2 to 4 people in two years) declined the microchipping – and that was their call for their reasons.
I wonder if the carrot of “free” microchipping might be better than the “stick” of compulsory microchipping “or else”.
But while we’re in the mood for compelling law-abiding people, I would much prefer it if the legislation had insisted on something else as well: third party insurance.
Like driving a car, owning any animal (but particularly a dog) carries with it a responsibility to the dog as well as to the people living around you. Insurance for liability for dogs causing accidents, biting other dogs and people, and so on, would be a step in the right direction. As ever, though, enforcement and regulation would be troublesome. Even cars with visible number plates are often only found uninsured when in an accident or stopped for another reason.
But I just prefer carrots rather than sticks.