Compulsory dog microchipping in UK precursor for cats?

It was announced on television this evening, 6th February 2013, that all dogs in the UK must be microchipped by April 2016. Many dog owners already do it voluntarily and it has been obligatory in Northern Ireland for about year.

This is quite a dramatic change in pet ownership in the United Kingdom. The question in my mind is whether this will lead to a similar change in cat ownership.

Spayed and microchipped cats

Photo by Alan_D.

Although we are told that 110,000 dogs are abandoned in the UK each year, I have never seen one wandering the streets. Neither have I ever seen a single feral or genuinely homeless cat in London or anywhere, come to think of it. I did read somewhere there were half a million feral cats in London. I have to disagree with that. If you go to Jerusalem in Israel you immediately see feral cats in the alleys. But London? No, nothing, never. The climate is probably a major influence.

However, we do have unwanted cats in the UK. And we do have lost cats as well. Peter Hepburn, the chief executive of Cats Protection, an important cat welfare charity, is very much in favour of microchipping all cats. A quarter of cats in the UK are microchipped. Two-thirds (66%) of cats brought to Cats Protection are not microchipped. As they microchip thee cats in their care, it costs them £190,000 a year. Apparently, abandoned dogs cost £57m per year to deal with, paid for by the taxpayer and charities.

Peter Hepburn makes the point that cats brought to them that are not microchipped are much more difficult to deal with. Sometimes, it can be impossible to reunite the cat with their owner. That is tough on the owner and cat. I’ll presume that some of these cats are euthanised.

I have a feeling that the UK, North America and Australia are very gradually heading towards compulsory microchipping of all dogs and cats. There may be enforcement problems. However, over time, people will settle in to the idea as a standard procedure in the same way that vaccinations are routine. That is the idea. An important aspect of microchipping is that it encourages responsible pet ownership as the person involved can be identified, provided the microchip information is correct. The information can be updated by phone, apparently.

Microchipping is not entirely without health risk. It is very cheap and easy to do at £20-30.

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Comments

Compulsory dog microchipping in UK precursor for cats? — 13 Comments

  1. Micro-chipping will definitely help in responsible ownership besides being helpful in identifying lost pets.Michael, where do you get to see the stray dogs and cats of London? In 2010, i spent a week in central London as a “Backpacker tourist” walking and traveling by public transport the length and breadth of Central London akin to my home city of Mumbai.I never ever came across a stray dog or cat during my entire weeks stay in the city.I distinctly remember seeing only one collared dog walking without a leash near the Thames river, hence remember the scene vividly.Even London’s largest market, “Burroughs Market” didn’t have a single stray cat or a dog.

    • Like you I have never seen a single stray or feral dog or cat in London. I actually don’t think there are any except perhaps in some derelict sites but even in those places there are very few. I don’t know why this is.

    • I think it will help the welfare of cats in the long run because it will gradually make cat owners more responsible and of course a lost cat can be reunited with his owner.

  2. It’s a good idea but the downside is that when the law passes only responsible owners will have their dogs microchipped, if they haven’t already done so.
    People who let their dogs wander off alone will simply not claim them back if the dog warden takes them, they will deny ownership and it may be hard to prove.
    BTW a bit off topic but I was interested to learn from our local police that some drug sellers hide small packages of drugs under their dog’s collar, they take the dog for a walk, meet the buyer, who stoops down to pat the dog and takes the small package from under the collar and leaves the money there!!!
    If you want to see life forget London, come to County Durham lol

    • I agree that it will take a long time to change things and it might not work. As for Durham, I am very tempted – seriously 😉 London is a foreign country and I am nostalgic for old England. Guess I am just getting a bit old.

      • I’m right behind you there Michael. You have my full encouragement and support with your future move out of the huge big smoke and into the land of morning mist and tweeting birds, wet grass – maybe even a bit white from the cold in winter but wonderfully fresh and invigorating! Out the the robins will be photographing you and you might need a pair of wellies – but in a good way 🙂

        Fantastic news this article. Regardless of the problems and issues of it not working it nonetheless represents an andvance in thinking and consideration for animal care and responsibility.

  3. lol there are some strange people here Michael, we have the misfortune that part of our lovely town is a dumping ground for druggies.
    Our niece and family run a pub in London and I’d say we have more adventures here than you do there lol
    ‘Lost in London found under a hat’ was one of our late mother’s sayings

  4. I think this is good, though I’m sure as Ruth said there will be some who just ignore it and don’t have their dogs chipped because they simply won’t want to be held responsible for the dog. But why just dogs, why not cats? Why, once again are cats second to dogs? Not only can someone run over a cat and drive away legally but also now they’re obviously not important enough (to some)to be included in this new law.

    • I agree with you Babz. Cats always seem to come after dogs. I think it is because cats are quieter than dogs – less demanding generally. More low profile. That sounds simplistic but it may be part of the reason.

      • Cats can look after themselves – thats the age old reason why people think its ok to let them do just that. Its awful to leave them to it but they can. Dogs are hopeless. You cant have dogs wandering around, it’s just not possible. Somehow people don’t mind having cats wandering around. But cats don’t invade space in the same way dogs do and yes, part of that is because they are quieter. I believe the intelligence and agility and ability of the cat works against its welfare in cultural terms.

      • People see dogs as totally helpless and think they have to do something about it whereas cats are independent by comparisim. People go totally squee when they see a helpless dribbling baby so a dog is basically the same except hairy 🙂

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