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Compulsory microchipping for dogs

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Petplan have always understood the importance of microchipping - it gives you reassurance that should your pet get lost or stolen, they are more likely to be returned to you safe and sound. However, from 6th April 2016 all dogs in England, Wales and Scotland will be legally required to be microchipped and their details registered on an authorised database. Northern Ireland has already introduced this measure.

Did you know?

Lost and stray dogs cost the taxpayer and welfare charities £33 million per year (DEFRA, 2015).

What does the law change mean for dog breeders?

The new law will impact all dog breeders in England, Wales and Scotland, below are some of the key facts you need to be aware of:

  • It will be illegal for a breeder to sell a puppy that is not microchipped.
  • All puppies must be microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old (unless a vet has certified in writing that a dog is unfit to be microchipped, see the below exemptions).
  • The breeder must be the first recorded keeper of the puppies on the microchip database: As the first keeper of the litter of puppies it is the breeder’s legal responsibility to get their puppies' microchipped and these details will be recorded against the microchip for the life of the dog. The breeder must not record the new owner as the first keeper of the puppy.
  • The breeder can update the new keeper’s details in the database themselves when they sell the puppy. If they do not do this then it is the new keeper’s responsibility to update the details in the database, in this instance the breeder must provide ‘transfer of keepership’ documents to the new owner so they can update their details.
  • Anyone who does not have their dog chipped after the law comes into force will have 21 days to comply, and failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £500.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions with regards to an upper age limit.

The time limit for the dog to be microchipped and details recorded with a database will be extended to 12 weeks where a vet has certified the dog as a working dog and docked its tail in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In this instance a breeder can still not sell the puppy until it has been microchipped. This exemption applies in England and Wales only as tail docking is banned in Scotland.

A dog can only be legally exempt from being microchipped if a veterinary surgeon certifies that it cannot be microchipped for health reasons. In such cases a vet would provide a time limit for when the exemption expires, the dog will then need to be microchipped when the certificate expires, unless the vet issues a further exemption certificate because of ongoing concerns with the dog's health. In such a case the breeder must provide a copy of the veterinary exemption certificate and any time limit for microchipping when selling the puppy.

What is the difference between ownership and keepership?

Microchipping will not be proof of 'ownership'. The words 'owner' and 'ownership' have been replaced by the words 'keeper' and 'keepership' for this very reason.

The keeper is the person with whom the dog normally resides and it is this person’s contact details that must be registered alongside the microchip number on the database. The keeper is also the person who will be held liable for any dogs registered to them.

Implanting a microchip

Only those who have been suitably trained may implant a microchip e.g. a veterinarian or veterinary nurse acting under the direction of a veterinarian. Breeders are able to implant microchips themselves, but to implant a microchip you must be trained and assessed as competent under a training course approved by the Secretary of State. Lantra have an approved training course.

Want to know more about the changes in law and what it will mean for dog owners? Find out more on our Microchipping FAQs page.