Compulsory microchipping will be “hugely challenging” and vets, charities and industry must work together to educate dog owners, according to the PDSA’s head vet.

Compulsory microchipping will be “hugely challenging” and only possible if vets, charities and industry all work together to educate dog owners, according to the PDSA’s head vet.

PDSA veterinary director Richard HookerSpeaking exclusively to Vetsonline, PDSA director of veterinary services Richard Hooker welcomed the “carrot and stick” approach announced by Government last week – with free chipping on one hand and firmer legislation on the other – and is adamant the approach will work, as long as it’s supported by vets and industry.  

He said: “Now we’ve got the news it’s about how various organisations and the profession work together to make national microchipping an available and accessible reality.”   

Underlining the need for a widespread education drive, he said his organisation’s 2012 PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report showed owners were not ignoring microchipping because of cost concerns but because they didn’t understand the need for permanent identification for their pets.
 
Following the policy announcement the BSAVA raised concerns that, while Dogs Trust was offering free microchips to owners, vet practices could bear the financial and logical brunt of chipping more than three million unidentified dogs. The association has since put a questionnaire online to gather the views of its members.

Referring to the association’s concerns, Mr Hooker said: “The situation [of having to chip three million] is hugely challenging. There needs to be a concerted effort by industry and there will need to be a huge amount of planning and logistics going on across the profession and charities to make that happen.”  

Mr Hooker also believes that a comprehensive, unified microchipping database is critical to the policy’s success, as “it would undermine the credibility of this legislation if someone then loses their animal and we have difficulty looking up the animal’s details.”

Concluding, he said: “This is absolutely a step in the right direction but the key will be to get the education message out there to drive owner uptake and we will be working with as many organisations as we can, and the veterinary profession, to seize the moment.

“Microchipping needs to be made a normal part of dog ownership over the next three years – this is really where the hard work starts.”

 

Microchipping image © istockphoto.com/youngvet

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