Vets are being urged to harden protocols to help dog owners maintain up-to-date microchip details following the release of figures suggesting thousands of family pets are being “needlessly” euthanised.

The Dogs Trust annual Stray Dog Survey showed stray dog numbers had fallen by 21% in the last census year, but a quarter (4,732) of the 16,447 stray dogs handed into local councils, with a microchip implanted, still face being destroyed because their owners hadn’t updated their contact details.

Stray dog
“Forgetfulness by owners could sadly lead to their dog being needlessly euthanised by local authorities.” Image: inna_astakhova / fotolia

The figures are described as “shocking” by Dogs Trust. It said: “The fact these dogs are microchipped suggests they were once a much-loved member of the family, yet forgetfulness by owners could sadly lead to their dog being needlessly euthanised by local authorities, because their owners cannot be traced.”

Educational role

Dogs Trust vet Catherine Dobbie said vets had a vital educational role to play that could potentially cut the number of animals being euthanised each year and urged vets to remind owners to keep microchip details up to date at every opportunity.

She said: “A lot of owners don’t realise or remember to change microchip details when they’ve got a million other things on their minds.

“Just reminding owners when they pop in for their pets’ boosters or even phoning up is a really important message for vets to be getting out there.”

Part of protocol

Dr Dobbie continued: “Anyone within the practice – from receptionist to vet – can give a gentle reminder.

“When vets and nurses are placing chips, they should be saying: ‘Oh, don’t forget your microchip needs to be changed if you move house or if ownership changes.’ Additionally, if they’re coming in for boosters or anything else, it should be part of the normal protocol they always be advised to keep details up to date.”

Dr Dobbie said she believed such a simple protocol could reduce the number of stray dogs never reunited with their owners – and end up being euthanised.

  • Read the full story, including more findings from the survey, in the 10 October issue of Veterinary Times.
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