Scotland politics

All Scottish dogs to be microchipped from next year

A dog looks mournfully at the camera as a vet injects him with a microchip Image copyright Thinkstock

All dogs in Scotland will need to be microchipped from April 2016 under a planned change in the law by the Scottish government.

A public consultation in 2014 showed that more than 83% of those who took part favoured making microchipping compulsory.

The government said that the move would be a "huge help" in reducing the number of lost and abandoned dogs in Scotland.

The new law is set to be introduced in England and Wales at the same time.

Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and so we must do all we can to safeguard dog welfare and promote responsible ownership.

He said that he understood two-thirds of dogs in Scotland had already been microchipped voluntarily, and claimed that in 2014, over 10,000 dogs in the UK were reunited with their owners as a result of a microchip.

"This is an impressive figure, but it could be improved on dramatically by ensuring that all dogs are microchipped and, equally important, that their details are kept up-to-date," he added.

Free microchipping

Mr Lochhead made the announcement at the Dogs Trust in Glasgow. The charity offers free microchipping services at its rehoming centres and at mobile clinics throughout the country.

Dogs Trust campaigns director Elvira Meucci said: "We have long been a leading voice in the campaign for compulsory microchipping and are delighted to see the Scottish government legislate for this important component of dog welfare and responsible ownership.

"As the UK's largest dog welfare charity, reducing the nation's stray dog population is at the very heart of Dogs Trust's ethos, which is why we have committed to ensuring no dog owners will lack the financial ability to microchip their dog."

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed the announcement.

They said that the government now had time to work out the details of implementing the measure and ensure that it created "a reliable and trusted system that works effectively for both dog owners and vets".

Ronnie Soutar, President of the BVA Scotland branch, said: "Our Scottish members will be delighted that the Scottish government has now committed to a date to introduce compulsory microchipping for dogs.

"We will work with Richard Lochhead and his team over the next 12 months to spread the message to vets and their clients across Scotland about the introduction of these essential regulations in 2016, making sure that owners are well-prepared and know their responsibilities."

'Long overdue'

Scottish Labour's spokeswoman for Rural Affairs, Sarah Boyack, said that the party had supported compulsory microchipping for some time.

She added: "While today's announcement is welcome, there is more that the Scottish government could be doing. Scottish Labour has backed a ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars and we challenge the Scottish government to match that commitment."

The Scottish Conservatives also welcomed the move, but said it was long overdue.

Nanette Milne, MSP for the North East, said the party had been pressing the government to act on microchipping and to address "the many complex issues" around dog ownership.

"There are still a number of outstanding issues which the compulsory microchipping of all dogs will not address, namely puppy farms and the growth in the sale of puppies and dogs online, as well as the indiscriminate breeding of dogs in social rented properties and the lack of enforcement and dog control by local authorities," she said.

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