27 December 2020

UK Animal Tagging

The UK government has launched a consultation about mandatory microchipping of cats, alongside three separate mandatory scanning proposals. Tuk’s Law would make it mandatory for vets to scan cats and dogs for microchips before putting them down; Fern’s Law  would require vets to microchip cats and dogs when brought into a vet practice for the first time; and Gizmo’s Legacy would make it mandatory to scan for microchips when a cat or dog is found dead by the roadside. 

The government states that over a quarter of the UK’s pet cats aren’t microchipped, 'meaning that up to 2.6 million cats will benefit from the new measures'.  Since compulsory dog microchipping was introduced in 2016 around nine million dogs are now microchipped.

In discussing the dog regime the consultation paper states 

 All adverse reactions to microchips, including failed and migrated microchips (those that move within the animal) must be reported to the Secretary of State via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. The latest data on adverse reactions in dogs from 2019 shows that there were a total of 354 reactions reported out of 540,000 dogs microchipped that year. 98% of reported cases were instances where the microchip had failed or migrated, rather than where implantation had caused health issues. 

In order that dogs are microchipped in a satisfactory way, minimum standards are set for microchips, and for the databases in which the keeper’s details are recorded (see paragraph 18). There are also minimum qualifications for those people who implant microchips. The 2015 Regulations require keepers to register their own details, including name, address, telephone number, and their dog’s details, including name, age and description of dog, and microchip number, on a compliant database. Failure by a keeper to register the dog on a compliant database or to keep their details up to date is an offence under the 2015 Regulations. 

The cost of microchipping a dog varies but it is generally between £15 to £30. Database operators offer different packages but may charge keepers to update a record. 

The 2015 Regulations also set requirements for the databases who register the dogs and their keepers. Databases must:

• have sufficient electronic capacity to store the keepers’ details; 

• back up the data to a secure off-site facility every day; 

• provide information to an authorised person (e.g. Defra, local authority, police); 

• provide information to a registered keeper about their dog; 

• have a system for identifying authorised persons; 

• have a system for identifying keepers of registered dogs; 

• maintain records to demonstrate that they are complying with the 2015 Regulations; 

• have a system for answering the telephone and responding to online requests; 

• be able to redirect online and telephone requests relating to dogs whose details are recorded on other databases; and 

• make available to other database operators the necessary information that allows other databases to determine which microchip numbers are recorded on their database. 

. There are currently 15 compliant databases that register dogs in England. Anyone enquiring about the registration of a microchip number can simply type the microchip number into any one of the compliant databases’ internet-based search facilities, or ‘lookup tools’, and the result will display the name of the database to which the number is registered.