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Microchip Law Passed in the U.K.

pretty spaniel

The British government has just passed a controversial new law: all dogs are required to have microchips by 2016.  After then, the owners of any dogs found without microchips will be fined the equivalent of nearly $800.  The government isn’t marching door to door testing dogs for microchips, but the owners of any unchipped dogs taken to shelters will face the fine when they come to pick up their dog.

The move is controversial because it’s seen as the government interfering too much in private affairs, as an Orwellian move.  Officials say they have everyone’s best interests at heart.  No one likes a stray dog, after all: neither the owners looking for their beloved pet, nor those who come across it unsure of whether or not it’s a friendly dog.  They also say it’ll save taxpayers money – eventually as much as billions a year – because that’s the estimated yearly cost of dealing with stray dogs.

Unclaimed dogs have to be taken care of at shelters, after all.  The microchip law will save everyone time and money: all dogs brought in will be scanned and owners immediately contacted.  Obviously not all dogs will have chips, but it will drastically cut down on the numbers of unclaimed and unknown dogs at shelters.

I admit I’ve thought a lot about getting Chihiro a microchip.  The cats both have one, because they came with them.  We’ve never had problems with Chihiro running off without one, but what if it happens?  It would be nice to have that peace of mind.  Probably the only thing holding me back is how expensive microchips can be: sometimes around $70, between veterinarian fees and the cost of the chip.

That is of course a concern relating to the new British law.  What about pet owners that can’t necessarily afford to drop such a large sum?  Many cities, however, like London, offer low-cost micro chipping, as well as other low-cost veterinary services.  I’ve never heard about anything like that in my area, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it exists.  I imagine that the passing of this law will require low cost options to be made available.

If a similar law was passed in the United States, I think I’d be O.K. with it.  We already have to get our dogs registered and given rabies shots.  The microchip is just a modern version of a registration, a more permanent identification than a collar, which can be slipped or lost.  My biggest concern would be cost; right now, spayed dogs in our county cost only $2 to register (and I think unfixed ones are only $7).  Microchips can be expensive, so I would hope that if they were required, there would be a way to get ones for cheaper.

What do you think about the law: is it going too far, or is it a smart way to save both dogs and money?


*(The above image by Philandthehounds is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)