The RCVS is likely to amend its supporting guidance in response to new regulations that mean vets must report adverse reactions to canine microchipping.
The regulation clarified “adverse reaction” as unnecessary suffering or pain caused by the microchip, or the migration of a chip from the implant site.
A failed microchip is defined as failure to transmit the encoded number when scanned by an appropriate receiver. Regulations are intended to help tackle puppy farming and only apply to England.
From February 24, 2015 anyone who finds an implanted microchip has failed or moved, or where a microchip has caused any abnormal reaction in the animal, must report it to the adverse event reporting scheme run by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).
RCVS registrar Gordon Hockey said: “The RCVS is likely to amend its supporting guidance later this year to clarify that veterinary surgeons should make appropriate reports, similar to reports for adverse reactions to veterinary medicines. In each case, reports can be made online to the VMD.”
However, it remains unclear whether vets will face a fine of up to £500 if they fail to report a microchip failure.
Mr Hockey said: “The RCVS is aware of new Defra microchipping guidelines for England that make it compulsory to report adverse reactions (including migration from the site of implantation) or the failure of a microchip.
“There is some concern in the profession about this requirement, but Defra has said it would not enforce this regulation via the courts or seek to impose fines.”
RCVS president Stuart Reid agreed his colleagues on the preliminary investigation and disciplinary committees would not consider such cases worth pursuing. “It is unrealistic to believe they would identify this as a professional conduct matter,” he added.
However, a Defra spokesman stated vets could be fined up to £500 should they fail to report adverse reactions. The spokesman added: “There is no offence for not reporting a dog that has not been microchipped.
“Vets are not being asked to enforce the regulations. Where a dog is not microchipped, we expect vets will explain the benefits of microchipping to keepers and remind them it will be a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped from April 6, 2016. We will be working with veterinary organisations to this end over the next year.
“There is a separate offence of failing to report adverse reactions to a microchip. These incidents are rare, but it can include where a microchip migrates from its implantation site or fails after implantation. These events may indicate an implanter needs retraining or be stopped from implanting or that there may be problems with batches of microchips supplied to implanters.
“Either way, any such indicators need to be investigated in the interests of the dogs and their keepers.”
To read the Microchipping of Dogs regulations in full, visit http://bit.ly/1HbsSLx
For more information, read Vol 45.17 of Veterinary Times