Despite welcoming the consultation on dangerous dogs as “long overdue”, the Pet Care Trust has warned that compulsory microchipping and insurance could unnecessarily burden and even criminalise those who cannot afford to comply.
Despite welcoming the Govenments consultation on dangerous dogs as “long overdue”, the Pet Care Trust (PCT) has warned that compulsory microchipping and insurance could create unnecessary burdens on responsible pet owners and criminalise those who cannot afford to comply.
PCT chief executive Janet Nunn said that, although there were merits in insuring and microchipping dogs, making such measures compulsory would have the effect of penalising responsible pet owners and potentially criminalising those who are financially vulnerable.
She said: “The costs involved could be devastating for those in low income households, meaning that some would have to consider giving their pets up or having them put to sleep.
“Why should the behaviour of a small irresponsible minority mean that an older person living alone with just their harmless pet for companionship has to foot a bill for microchipping and insurance – or risk losing their pet? Many dog owners will comply with the proposed legislation whilst the irresponsible few will not and will thus avoid the costs involved. There has to be a better way of tackling the problem.”
While the Pet Care Trust does support microchipping as the best way of identifying a dog, it does not believe that it should be made mandatory for all. In fact, the trust believes that the present legal requirement for dogs in public to wear a collar and tag showing the owner’s name and address is perfectly serviceable for the vast majority of dogs and their owners.
Ms Nunn said: “While microchipping is desirable, it would be disproportionate to criminalise those who cannot afford to comply. We also fail to see the necessity of annual checks on microchipped dogs, which would make this even more costly for the pet owner.
“As for pet insurance, most responsible owners insure, but we shouldn’t criminalise those who choose not to. Every dog owner has a duty of care to their animal and a responsibility to society, but it would be wrong to allow a few bad elements to hinder the benefits that 8,000,000 dog owners in the UK enjoy.
“Dogs are good for your health: research shows dog owners (especially pensioners) make fewer visits to the doctor, experience lower levels of stress and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non pet owners. There is also evidence to suggest that young people particularly benefit physically, emotionally and socially from living with dogs and learning about responsible pet ownership. These benefits to society (and the NHS) should not be overlooked.”