It appears that compulsory microchipping of cats in the UK is to become a reality. All cats will be microchipped. There’s been a long discussion proposing the compulsory microchipping of domestic cats in the UK in order to catch up with the already compulsory micro-chipping of dogs. The pandemic has created a surge in pet thefts: about 20% of dogs and around 12% for cats. On the radio today the presenter discussed another arm of the process of preventing the theft of cats which is to make the purchase of these companion animals cashless. This would help law enforcement to track the sale and purchase of companion animals which might lead to an increased chance of prosecution which in turn might help to prevent thefts.
However, let’s be honest and ask if it will work. The facts are challenging. If microchippping deterred thefts why are dog thefts up by 20%? The theives cut the microchip from the animal. Or perhaps they reprogramme the microchip. Microchipping is not a magic panecia. There has to be more as part of the process.
The Sun newspaper reports that cat owners will have microchip their companion animals or face a £500 fine under government plans. There are about 10 million companion cats in Britain of which, I’m told, about 2.5 million are not microchipped.
Police statistics show that the number of cats being stolen has risen nearly 3 times in five years. Compulsory micro-chipping is part of a package of measures that pet theft. The new legislation would also be a formal recognition of the value that families place on their companion animals which is far in excess of the value the law places on them currently. You probably know that the monetary value of a companion animal only relates to its purchase price or if not purchased an estimated low value because the valuation does not take into account the emotional connection between animal and human and the fact that they are related to as family members.
For a long time there has been a desire to recognise the true value of companion animals by taking into account the emotional connection.
The measures are being introduced by a ministerial task force set up by Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary which also includes the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Environment Secretary George Eustice.
In addition, thieves might face tougher sentences to reflect the emotional impact of pet thefts to their owners. Animal advocates struggle to understand how thieves can be so callous about the heavy emotional impact that their criminality has on both pets and human caretaker.
Currently a successful conviction might lead to a fine of less than £300. To make the new legislation effective vets could be required by law to scan cats and dogs for microchips when animals come into the surgery for treatment or to be euthanised.
The reason why pet dogs are stolen more than cats is probably because there are far more pedigree dogs then pedigree cats. Typically when a family adopt a dog they purchase a purebred dog whereas typically when a family adopt a cat they adopt a random bred rescue cat.
Clearly pedigree cats are targeted by thieves. They might want to breed from these cats if they are not spayed or neutered or they sell them at exorbitant prices. Maine Coons, Bengals and British Shorthairs are classic pedigree cats that are stolen according to Pet Theft Awareness under a freedom of information request.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative party leader is campaigning with other Conservative MPs for a crackdown through legislation to be included in the new policing bill.
The poultry £300 or less fine is not a deterrent to pet thieves who can make £15,000 a day. The Sun has a video of three thieves who barged into the home of a dog owner to steal their animals. He was forced to fight them off. There have been some extraordinaryly unashamed and bold thefts of dogs in the UK recently. Thieves, sometimes working in tandem, for example pushing a dog owner walking their dog to the ground, grabbing the lead and running off.
P.S. There is also the overdue issue of making it compulsory for drivers to stop when they hit a cat and report the matter to the police and/or local authority. This in combination with compulsory microchipping would allow owners to be reunited with their deceased cat. It does depend though on keeping the microchip data up-to-date.
SOME MORE ON MICROCHIPPING: