Vast numbers of dog owners in St Helens are breaking the law and could face a £500 fine because their pets aren’t microchipped, a leading borough vet has warned.
Legislation came into force this month but many owners are still not comply with the new rules, according to a warning from White Cross Vets in Eccleston.
From April 6 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales must be microchipped and puppies have to be chipped by the time they are eight weeks old.
The legislation is part of Government plans to reduce numbers of lost and stolen dogs and promote responsible dog ownership.
Figures reveal that more than 100,000 dogs are lost or abandoned every year and less than half of these are reunited with their owners.
However, it’s estimated that more than a million dogs are still not chipped and to compound matters, approximately three million dog owners have failed to update their contact details after moving house.
White Cross Vets says it regularly sees dogs that are not microchipped and as a result the family-run group is offering to microchip dogs for free as part of their annual vaccinations, across its 14 UK practices.
Kelly Whitelaw, from White Cross Vets on Millfield Road in Eccleston, said: “We are a nation of dog lovers and microchipping gives owners the best possible chance of seeing their pet again if it gets lost.
“The system sees a tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin. It
can be scanned by a vet or dog warden if the pet strays and the owners’ details can be easily accessed.
“This legislation has the potential to greatly reduce the number of lost and stray dogs, but we know from our experience that there are still lots of dogs without microchips, even though the procedure is very safe, cost effective and lasts a lifetime. Every year hundreds of lost dogs are brought into our 14 practices without microchips. In these instances we have to rely on our active Facebook communities and we currently reunite more than 10 pets each week with their owners through social media.”
Kelly added: “Council officials and the police can now issue court notices to anyone with a dog that isn’t microchipped.
“In most cases it’s expected that those flouting the legislation will be given 21 days to have the dog chipped, but those who still refuse will be prosecuted in magistrates
courts, with fines of up to £500, payable to Government coffers.”