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To combat the growing number of stray and homeless dogs in England, British authorities have enacted a new federal law, effective April of 2016, every dog owner in England must microchip their dog or face fines equal to about $780.
Microchips, a grain of rice-sized implant placed right under the dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades, contain information about the dog and his owner, making it easier for lost, stray, or homeless pets to be reunited with their families.
According to BBC News, in England, on average 100,000 dogs are abandoned or lost each year at a cost of nearly $90 million to British tax payers and animal charity organizations. Last year alone, only about half of these dogs were reunited with their owners, with close to 7,000 euthanized and the rest either adopted to new families or sitting in shelters and foster homes.
Microchipping costs a dog owner around $25-50, although many animal welfare groups offer low-cost or free options as needed.
British authorities hope that the new law will both help to reunite lost pets with their families as well as require dog owners to be more responsible with their pets. A dog owner will no longer be able to simply abandon a pet, as it will now be traceable.
The new law, however, has been met with plenty of opposition. Microchips that are improperly registered or not kept updated with current owner information are useless. The National Dog Warden Association claims that about 40% of the lost and stray dogs they pick up have incomplete or outdated information registered to their microchips.
For responsible dog owners that love and value their pets, a microchip offers a level of security not present with simple tags that become lost or tattoos that become faded or illegible with time.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the number of stray, homeless, abandoned, and euthanized pets change after the new laws are put into action.
Do you think mandatory microchipping is a good idea? Will it lessen the number of stray or abandoned pets? Weigh in with a comment below!