Animal shelter backing for dog microchipping
News that all dogs must be microchipped by 2016 has been welcomed at a Shepton Mallet animal shelter.
But Lyn Southway, the manager of Happy Landings, in Pylle, is unsure if the scheme will be fully enforceable or make a difference to animal welfare.
The Government has announced changes to the Animal Welfare Act.
The new legislation will mean owners must make sure that their animals have a tiny sterile chip, containing contact details, inserted between the dog's shoulder blades.
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Anyone who refuses to comply with the change, which comes into effect in April 2016, faces a fine of up to £500.
"In principle it is a great idea," said Ms Southway.
"It will certainly help with stray reduction where owners simply cannot be traced.
"Any stray dogs that come to us here at Happy Landings are immediately scanned to see if they are chipped. If they are, we can then look it up on the Pet Log database, get the owner's details and reunite them with the dog very quickly.
"If they are not chipped then the dog warden will be informed and they then have to be taken to the designated pound for the Mendip area and hope that the owner gets in touch. Every dog and cat we re-home gets chipped here if they are not already done."
But Ms Southway is concerned that people who simply dump dogs are irresponsible owners who are not likely to get them microchipped in the first place. She also questions whether the police are going to have the time to check if dog owners are complying.
The animal shelter manager says the problem of abandoned animals has its roots in the fact that too many puppies and kittens are being born. She feels that something needs to be done to put an end to puppy farming.
"People need to stop endorsing this practise by not buying from them either direct or from classified ads and online sites. "Microchipping would work if everyone complied because you could trace the dog to the owner and also back to the original breeder, but it will only work if the details on the database are kept up to date," said Ms Southway.
"Dog wardens say that something like 40 per cent of dogs they pick up are chipped but have the wrong details so still couldn't be returned to their owners."
The government legislation will only apply to dogs but stray cats are also a major problem and Ms Southway says that if cats had to be chipped as well, and owners complied, then it should make it harder to just dump them.
Government figures show that more than 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost each year, costing tax payers and animal welfare charities £57 million.