Microchipping where it Matters Most: Battersea reveals only 1 in 5 lost dogs have up to date chips ahead of new microchipping law

New research by Battersea has revealed only 1 in 5 lost dogs have any chance of being reunited with their owners after worrying figures from Local Authorities showed the majority of dogs either don’t have microchips, or the chip is out of date.

The world-renowned animal charity collected data from 50 UK Local Authorities which took in 1,154 stray dogs in February 2016. Battersea’s new Microchipping where it Matters Most report revealed that only 45% of those strays had a microchip and the owners contact details were out of date in more than half of these. 

Over 280 dogs had microchips with inaccurate details because:

  • 25% were chipped to the wrong owner
  • 31% of chips had an old address
  • 38% of chips had an old phone number

These concerning Battersea findings come on the eve of the new compulsory microchipping law – stating all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales must be chipped with up to date details by 6 April. This milestone in animal welfare legislation is warmly welcomed by Battersea as it will make tracing dog owners much easier, enabling more strays to be reunited with their worried owners more quickly, and irresponsible owners and breeders can be prosecuted more easily.

Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said: “Battersea’s research reveals a very worrying picture of how few dogs in the UK are already microchipped and also that far too many of those chips have out of date details on them. We welcome the new microchipping law as it can really help in reuniting lost dogs with their owners. But there’s a long way to go to make sure the nation’s dog owners know they must get their dog chipped and keep their details up to date.

“This important legislation can make a real difference to the welfare of all dogs, and dog owners are welcome to make an appointment at any Battersea centre to bring their dog in and get it chipped for free.”

Battersea cares for over 8,000 animals every year across its three sites in London, Berkshire and Kent and the charity hopes the new microchipping law will lead to many more reunites between dogs and their owners. Battersea, and other animal welfare charities such as Dogs Trust and Blue Cross, are offering the free dog microchipping service at their centres.

The support given to Battersea from the 50 UK Local Authorities, who checked whether the stray dogs coming into them throughout February were chipped or not and whether chips were up to date, was invaluable.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Compulsory microchipping for dogs will tackle reckless ownership and help save councils vast sums of taxpayers’ cash looking after strays.

“The new law requires owners to keep contact details up to date with their microchip company, so anyone moving home, selling their dog or giving them to someone else, needs to update the details to ensure they can be easily reunited with their pet and don’t risk being fined.

“Councils will of course take a proportionate approach to enforcing the new law, but owners can help by ensuring they get their dogs chipped as soon as possible.

“The new microchipping law will improve animal welfare by helping councils return even more stray dogs to their owners, while reducing the huge cost to the public purse and the number of owners paying mounting fees for unplanned stays in kennels.”

Lost dogs can be reunited with their owners in just a couple of hours after being brought to a rescue centre like Battersea, their local vet or Local Authority, if they have a microchip. The chip is as small as a grain of rice and can instantly provide the contact details of the owner. Last year, Battersea reunited 542 lost pets with their owners.

If you have lost or found a dog or cat, please visit Battersea’s website to file a report or call the charity’s Lost Dogs & Cats Line as soon as possible on 0207 627 9245 - lines are open between 8am and 6pm seven days a week.

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For more information on Battersea’s Microchipping where it Matters Most report, images, and details of the individual Local Authority microchipping findings please contact 020 7627 9332 or email press@battersea.org.uk 

Notes to editors

  • In 2015 27% of dogs and 30% of cats arrived at Battersea as strays.
  • Only 30% of strays were able to be reunited with their owners in 2015 due to dogs arriving without a microchip or details being out of date.
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2015 the Home cared for over 8000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 260 dogs and 220 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea. The average stay for a dog is 30 days and 22 days for a cat.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home rehomes dogs and cats all over the UK.