New microchipping law comes into force on 6 April 2016 but one in five dog owners don't know if their pets are chipped or not
- A fifth of owners don't know if their dogs are chipped or not
- 19% do not have their dogs chipped
- Scots are the least likely to microchip their dogs
- Owners in the south east most likely to microchip their dog
From 6 April, a new law comes into force which requires all dogs in the UK aged eight weeks and over to be microchipped and for the chip to be registered to an approved database. However, according to Gocompare.com's own customer data*, 20% of dog owners looking to insure their pets over the last year were unsure if their dogs were microchipped and a further 19% indicated that they weren't chipped.
Of the top 20 dog breeds, English Springer Spaniels and Golden Retrievers were the most likely to be chipped, with just over 70% of owners of these breeds declaring that they were. However, just 45% of Pug owners said their dogs had been microchipped, making them the least chipped breed of the top 20 most popular dogs, including all mongrels.
The law is being introduced to help reunite owners with missing pets and to help track the owners of dogs that attack people or other animals. Dog owners failing to meet the new requirements face a fine of up to £500.
A microchip is a tiny electronic device which has a unique identification number that can be read by a scanner. The chip is implanted into an animal's skin between the shoulder blades by a trained person. Microchipping is readily available across the UK in vets' surgeries and animal rescue centres. The procedure costs around £15 but some animal charities and rehoming centres offer a free service.
The new microchipping law requires details of all dogs to be recorded on a DEFRA-approved database, including the name and address details of the owner. Any changes - including to the owner's phone number, address or surname, or a change in the ownership of the dog - must be notified to the database responsible for the dog's registration. Failure to keep the registered details up to date may result in a fine.
Where a dog is transferred to a new keeper, the new keeper must register their contact details on an approved microchip database - unless this has already been done by the previous owner.
Dog owners who ignore the new legislation and fail to get their dog chipped or to maintain their ownership details will be served a notice. They will then have 21 days to comply, or else receive in a fine of up to £500.
Microchipping by region
Proportion of dogs microchipped
Ben Wilson, spokesperson for Gocompare.com Pet Insurance, commented: "According to statistics from the Kennel Club, over 100,000 dogs are lost, stolen or stray each year. Sadly, around 6,000 of these dogs are put to sleep because their owner cannot be traced.
"When out and about, dogs must already wear a collar and tag with their owner's name, address and telephone number. But collars and tags can fall off or be removed, so microchipping is a more effective way of recording a dog's ownership. And it's the best and quickest way to help a lost or stolen dog to be returned to its owner - reducing the heartache of owners and the burden on animal charities who provide shelter to stray and lost dogs.
"According to our data, only around 60% of dog owners know for sure that their pet is chipped Owners who are unsure if their dogs are chipped should take them to a vet or animal charity that can scan them. If they are not microchipped, many vets will be able to implant one in a very simple and cheap procedure.
"Any database is only as good as the data it holds. So if you move home or sell your dog, you also need to make sure that you update your registration details to reflect this change."
Ben Wilson continued: "Encouraging all dog owners to get their dogs microchipped is a very positive step. Not only will it help improve the chances of lost dogs being returned to their owners, it could also reduce the number of dogs being stolen and this may lead to lower pet insurance premiums if there are fewer claims."
Gocompare.com has produced a guide on pet insurance and microchipping.
Notes to editors:
*Data is based on pet insurance comparisons carried out on Gocompare.com between March 2015 and February 2016.