Written by Davina Evans
June 2019 is National Microchipping Month. Since 2016 it has become mandatory for all dogs to be microchipped, and since then, June each year is the national awareness month for this important campaign to keep our pets safe.
The microchip (also known as a transponder) that is implanted is the size of a grain of rice, and there are mini microchips for smaller animals. They are implanted under the skin, at the base of the neck, either by a vet or a trained, authorised specialist using a hypodermic needle. No surgery or anesthesia is needed. It is painless and lasts for the lifetime of your pet.
How A Microchip Works
A microchip is a tiny electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder. It sits dormant under the skin, and is only activated if a scanner is passed over the area. Using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, the scanner sends out radio waves which the microchip reacts to and sends its' identification number to the scanner.
Currently, the standard microchips used for pets only store the identification number. They are not GPS devices, cannot track your pet, and do not store any medical details of your pet.
Each owner is responsible for ensuring that the microchip is registered with a government compliant database, and that the contact details are kept up to date. UK breeders must ensure each puppy is microchipped and the details registered on the database by the time the puppy is 8 weeks old. When you purchase a puppy, you should be given the microchip documentation in order to update the database and transfer the ownership details. DO NOT purchase a puppy if you are not given this information.
Failure to ensure your dog is not microchipped now carries a fine of up to £500 in England.
(Image: Microchip componants. science.howstuffworks.com)
The glass capsule that the chip is housed in is biocompatible, meaning it is non-toxic to your animal and does not cause any allergic reactions. In addition, the cap is made from a polypropylene polymer which stimulates connective tissue and cells to form around it, thus keeping it in place and stopping it moving around your pet's body.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has recommended and approved a global 'standard' for animal microchips to comply with, which should ensure an internationally consistent identification system. If your pet is implanted with one of these 'ISO Standard' microchips, and they become lost whilst travelling with you abroad, if they are scanned with an 'ISO Standard' scanner, they will be able to read the identification number, and then get in touch with you to reunite you with your missing pooch.
Where To Register Microchip Details And How Much Does It Cost?
Whoever implants the microchip will keep the details on their records - this is why it is probably best for the animals' registered vet to carry out the microchipping as they then have all the medical records and identification information in one place.
Although microchipping sounds expensive, it is actually only around £10-£20 for the procedure. The following services offer free microchipping for your dog, although proof of eligibility (eg: receipt of benefits) may be required, and/or a donation to help the charity:
Once microchipped, you will need to register the details on a nationally recognised database. The following databases all meet government standards:
- Animal Microchips
- Animal Tracker
- MicroChip Central
- National Veterinary Data Service
- Pet Identity UK
- UK PETtrac
PLEASE NOTE: You can be fined up to £500 if your dog is registered on a database not on this list.
*If you register with Petlog, there is an app called Bauwow (available on Android and iPhone) that has special features for Petlog customers. There is a section called Petlog Lost Pet Alert which is a lost & found feature with advice and social networks, a directory of vets, rescues and wardens nearby and a choice of alerts. More information about Bauwow is available here.
(Image: Bauwow App. www.bauwowworld.com)
What Should I Do If My Dog Goes Missing
If your pet goes missing, the first thing you should do as soon as possible is to contact the database company that the pet is registered with. The database company immediately flags the pets' details so that you can be contacted straight away as soon as the animal is scanned. Whilst you are on the phone to the database company, it would be prudent to check that your details are all up to date.
Benefits Of Microchipping Your Pet
Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to be reunited with a missing pet quicker if they are microchipped, there are also other benefits. They reduce the risk of dog theft as the chips are difficult to surgically remove and the data encoded within the microchip is tamper-proof.
Another major breakthrough is that placing the onus on the breeder to register the puppies at 8 weeks old tackles the problem of puppy farming, and any unhealthy puppies can be traced back to the original breeder who can then be held accountable for their actions. Puppy farming carries a sentence of up to 3 years' imprisonment.
Finally, ensuring your pet is microchipped solves ownership disputes, as the registered owner on the database is classed as the legal owner in the eyes of the law.
Statistics from Dogs Trust for 2015-6 show that 43,000 strays were reunited with their owners. A fifth of these (8,600) as a direct result of the animal having a microchip. Sadly, for this same year, 37,000 lost and abandoned dogs remained unclaimed in local authority kennels, and 3,463 were put to sleep.
In light of this, and whilst we are still in National Microchipping Month, please take this opportunity to share this article with anyone you know who has a pet. Having them microchipped could save their lives.
Written by Davina Evans for Store Paws. All facts are correct at time of writing. Any views and opinions expressed are those of the author only.