17th May 2021

Microchip thoughts

We were all excited to hear that microchipping of animals was going to be included in the Governments Action Plan for Animals. After all these years of Debbie’s campaigning, something so valuable in the quest to return stolen or lost dogs to their rightful owners seemed to be within grasp. All for the sake of introducing two measures - first, a central database, just like the car insurance database the police can check instantly; second, a legal obligation for vets, dog wardens and the police to scan for a chip to run through that database.

The Government have clearly set out that microchipping of cats will be compulsory “to ensure that lost or stolen cats can be reunited with their owners”. The Government further confirmed that they are “reviewing the operation of the current microchip database systems… with a view to introducing improvements. We are also considering reforms to provide greater reassurance that microchip database….is checked appropriately...”  Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

In part, it is, and we welcome and support the creation of a central database. When owners are obliged to have their pets microchipped, they do so on the understanding that the chip will help to identify and return their animal to them. Without exception, each of the 16 microchip companies advertise and sell their chips on this premise.

It must not be left to chance whether a vet or the police search the correct database. Equally it is unfair to ask for vets, police, councils to search each of the 16 databases individually.  The way to address this is to mirror the car insurance database. The technology already exists and is proven, one search, 16 chipping companies, one result. The real question is when searches should be done.

It is intriguing to read that the Government are considering this pertinent question. The campaign they refer to in their Action Plan is Tuk’s Law. This requires a scan to be done where healthy dogs are taken to the vet with a request for euthanasia to see if the dog is registered with a rescue. We agree that this would be an appropriate time to scan, but we cannot help but feel that the Governments proposals are missing the opportunity to create a system that could lead to greater numbers of stolen or lost animals being reunited with their families, namely a scan on presentation to the vet.

We also note that the suggestion in the RSPCA Act Now for Animals that local Councils and police are to scan dogs and cats that are found deceased at the roadside. It seems wholly inappropriate to us that scanning of microchips only becomes a consideration on death or potential death. This is not where the obligation to microchip our pets originated.

Owners are advised that microchipping their pets will lead to an increased chance of having them returned to them should they be stolen or get lost. A premise that was used when the microchipping of dogs was being considered. A premise that is used as a marketing ploy by the chipping companies and a premise that is now being re-proposed in the Government’s own Action Plan.

Along with the Fern’s Law campaign, we call on the Government to take this opportunity to deliver on the promise to create a reciprocal scanning obligation on vets, councils, rescues and police that will result in the increase of healthy, stolen dogs being identified and returned to their rightful owners. Scanning either on death or under threat of death alone will not achieve this. 

If you agree with Debbie and her fellow campaigners at #FernsLaw, now may be the appropriate time to write to your MP and ask them to help ensure that Government not only deliver on their Action Plan but that they do so in a way that will maximise the purpose of chipping our pets. Vets currently use a “best practice” approach to scanning. This is failing many stolen pets and their families, the opportunity is there to correct this, we urge the Government to take it.

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This campaign was started by Sir Bruce Forsyth and is run by his daughter Debbie.

They are campaigning to make it law to scan and check microchip ID to reunite stolen dogs, cats and horses.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a way of identifying and returning lost or stolen pets? Many of you will have had your dog chipped in accordance with provisions of the Microchipping of Dogs Act 2015. Many of you may be surprised to learn that whilst you are obliged to have your dog chipped, vets and rescues are not obliged to scan those chips on presentation of a dog. 
Crazy isn’t it? We think so too, therefore we have added our support to Debbie Matthews and her campaigns in connection with this issue which are twofold. 


First there is the lack of any obligation to scan. The only guidance given to vets is alarmingly a suggestion that “best practice” would be to scan a dog on presentation. An obligation to scan would identify the dog and registered owner. This would lead to reunions of lost or stolen dogs. 


Secondly there is a larger issue of there being a lack of a central database that can be checked. Currently there are 13 different companies providing pet microchips and there is no facility to share the registration information that each chipping company holds. This is a misnomer and has already been proven to be possible without risk of any GDPR concerns.

 

Consider car insurance - how many insurance companies are there who provide car insurance? You will rapidly realise that if you are subject to a vehicle check by the Police, they are able to check all those companies for valid insurance within minutes from a central database. This database contains the most basic of details confirming name, address, make of car and whether valid insurance is in place. 


We would also add that it is vitally important that pet owners keep their details up to date with their microchipping company. Yes, there may be a small administration fee to do this, but we think this small fee is worth every penny. 
 

The previous petition ran for 6 months and gathered 112,225 signatures.

Here is a link to the new petition for a single microchip database - https://t.co/IGrDWu3Dfa?amp=1

Here are some more reasons behind why the microchip system is flawed https://t.co/WSOmlggI6i?amp=1