New research reveals worrying figures ahead of new microchipping law

05 APRIL 2016

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after worrying figures from Local Authorities showed the majority of dogs either don’t have microchips, or the chip is out of date.

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We have collected data from 50 UK Local Authorities which took in 1,154 stray dogs in February 2016. Our 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where it Matters Most report revealed that only 45% of those strays had a microchip and the owners contact details were out of date in more than half of these.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 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 us 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very worrying picture of how few dogs in the UK are already microchipped and also that far too many of those chips have out of date details on them.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.”

We care for over 8,000 animals every year across our three sites in London, Berkshire and Kent and hope the new microchipping law will lead to many more reunites between dogs and their owners. We, 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 us 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, 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, we reunited 542 lost pets with their owners.