Pressure to introduce compulsory microchipping of companion animals has intensified with the presentation of a report to MPs, Lords and animal health experts.

Pressure to introduce compulsory microchipping of companion animals has intensified with the presentation of a report to MPs, Lords and animal health experts.

Radiograph of a cat with an identifying microchip located above  the spine. Image courtesy Joel MillsThe report, entitled Compulsory Microchipping in the UK: an analysis of the current situation, systems and technologies available on the UK market, was presented to politicians at the Houses of Parliament on November 10, as well as key figures from veterinary and welfare organisations.

Commissioned by Bayer Animal Health and written by independent researcher Lucy Jones, the stated aim of the report is to inform the debate “regarding the introduction of compulsory microchipping of pets”. It highlights the benefits of microchipping, including the increased rate of reunification of lost pets and the reduced levels of violence associated with dangerous dogs.

Suggesting compulsory microchipping should extend to animals other than dogs, Ms Jones said: “Much of the press regarding microchipping has concentrated on dogs. This is understandable considering that it is dogs – rather than cats – which pose a threat to the public, but when contemplating the function of microchips in reuniting lost pets with their owners, the statistics are significant.

Report author Lucy Jones“Although there are around 9.5 million cats in the UK, only 1.8 million of these are microchipped and so, when one considers that 250,000 cats are injured or killed in road traffic accidents each year, one can appreciate the importance of improving that figure.

“Cats that have been involved in accidents but are not chipped are often not offered the same [veterinary] attention, as if the owner cannot be identified, bills cannot be paid. If all animals were chipped, vets could make better decisions on whether to treat [them] with expensive medicines or surgeries because they would have quicker access to owners’ contact details and decision-making family members.”

Although in favour of compulsory microchipping of dogs, BVA president Harvey Locke said the association could not fully support the report as it advocated licensing to fund the policing of a compulsory scheme. Further, he claimed there was “confusion arising from the report as to whether the recommendations refer to all pet animals or just dogs”.

A DEFRA spokesman said Ms Jones’ findings would be considered, but added: “We have no plans to introduce compulsory microchipping of all pets.”

  • For the full article, by reporter Joel Dudley, see this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol.40, No.46).
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