Vet’s Diary: Chips with everything but only if details are updated

THERE have been a couple of significant national news items this week that no doubt most people will have seen.

Firstly, the Government announcement that all new-born puppies will be required to have a microchip implanted. Secondly, in response to the figures that show the incidence of cruelty to pets is on the increase, the RSPCA trying to promote more responsible pet ownership.

In fact, the two items are very closely linked. Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring that your dog (and let’s not forget cats here as well) is identified.

Tags on collars are very important but are easily removed and so microchipping is the most reliable permanent form of identification.

Contrary to what BBC Radio 2 news reported on Monday morning, the chips do not contain the owner’s details.

This may sound a little pedantic but the chip actually is only coded with a unique number which is stored on a national database against whatever details have been registered.

This database is only as good as the information supplied to it and we have frequently run into problems with pets that have been chipped and then passed on through several families without the details changed accordingly.

Determining who is responsible for a pet can often require no small amount of detective work, which ultimately isn’t helped significantly by the fact that the animal is chipped at all.

There is no doubting that the best function of a chip is to enable lost pets to be returned to their rightful owners.

Regular readers of the diary will know that I have benefited from this first hand with my own dog a few months ago!

The more pets that are chipped, the more pets that will be reunited with their owners should they chance to stray and this has to be a good thing.

It is difficult to find any reasonable excuse for simply abandoning a pet and for those of us who cherish the relationship we have with our dogs and cats it is all but impossible to understand how anyone could do this.

There has been an increase in the number of strays and any legislation that makes people think more about the consequences of pet ownership before they get a puppy should help to reduce this statistic.

Unfortunately, I am suspicious that the new microchip legislation is less likely to have a significant impact on the incidence of dangerous dog attacks, the problem for which it is intended. As with car insurance, there will always be folk who will ignore the law and many dangerous dogs are likely to remain un-chipped.

Ultimately, having a micro-chip in situ doesn’t stop a dog from being aggressive.

Though chipping might help in terms of traceability of culpable owners, this requires both possession of the dog – to read the chip – and for information stored to be accurate.

Responsible dog owners rarely have problems with their pets, but by their nature are more likely to adhere to national legislation. I hope we are not preaching to the converted.