The UK’s Attitude to Microchipping Revealed

Written by Elena Barnard | Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lost or stolen pets, and should vets check? Our survey results are in!

Losing a pet is every owner’s nightmare, and since microchipping is intended to help lost pets be returned quickly and safely, you might assume it’d be one of the first things owners would do. But since vets don’t currently check pets for microchips when they’re admitted into their care, is chipping seen as the right thing to do?

Animal Friends recently carried out a survey of pet owners to find out more about who does and doesn’t microchip and why, and also to gauge the UK’s attitude to vets not routinely checking microchips. Here is a full run-down of our findings:

Microchipping

Are most dogs microchipped?

• 63% of owners with one or more dogs say all of their dogs are microchipped.

• 26% of dog owners have at least one dog that isn’t microchipped.

• 12% of dog owners own one or more dog that they’re not sure if it’s microchipped.

Are most cats microchipped?

• 48% of owners with one or more cats say all of their cats are microchipped.

• 40% of cat owners have at least one cat that isn’t microchipped.

• 12% of cat owners own one or more cat that they’re not sure if it’s microchipped.

Should vets check chips?

• Most people believe so: 72% of people surveyed said vets should check the microchips of all animals admitted to their care no matter what.

• 21% think the vet would need a reason, saying they should only check if they are suspicious that the pet may have been stolen.

• 7% of people believe no vet should check the microchips of animals admitted to their care.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Microchip?

Lack of awareness

• The most popular reason for not having a pet microchipped was ‘I have not thought about it’ – an answer given by 15% of owners. However, this lack of awareness about microchipping is likely to change in the coming months, as microchipping your dog will become compulsory in the UK in 2016.

An unnecessary step?

• One in ten owners (10%) haven’t had their pet microchipped because their pet never leaves their side or somewhere safe such as a house.

• 7% say it’s not necessary for them to have their pet microchipped as their pet wears a collar or tags.

• 4% simply believe a microchip would not be of any use.

Data security suspicions

• Concerns over what a microchip may be used for held 10% of owners back, as they gave ‘I am concerned that a microchip could be used to track my movements when I am with my pet’ as their reason for not having the device installed.

• 7% shared a similar worry, saying ‘I am concerned that personal information will be easily accessible on a pet microchip’.

Concerns over pet discomfort

• 10% said concerns that installing the microchip would hurt their pet had prevented them from doing so.

Financial aspects

• The worry of high costs held some owners back, although these costs seem to be overestimated: 6% thought getting their pet microchipped would be too expensive, yet only 2% of owners who had found out the cost still thought it too expensive.

Stolen or lost pets

Our findings indicate that dogs are more likely to be stolen than cats, and even though pet theft is on the rise, pets are still more likely to go missing than to be stolen:

Dogs

• 23% of people have owned a dog or more than one dog that has gone missing.

• 13% of people have had a dog or more than one dog stolen.

Cats

• 24% of people have owned a cat or more than one cat that has gone missing.

• 8% of people have had a cat or more than one cat stolen.

Do we often get our pets back?

• 22% of all owners got their missing or stolen pet back, while 14% did not. (63% had never had a pet stolen or go missing).

Regional Stats

Microchipping

Dogs

• Having all the dogs you own microchipped is most popular in northern England, where 75% of people have had all their dogs chipped.

• In the Republic of Ireland, only 34% have had all of the dogs they own chipped.

Cats

• Those with cats in south west England are most likely to have all their cats microchipped, with 56% saying they have all the cats they own chipped.

• In the Republic of Ireland, only 30% of people have had all of the cats they own chipped.

Vet Checking

• The belief that vets should check the microchips of all pets admitted to their care was most popular in northern England (with 77% of people surveyed agreeing), followed by south east England (with 75% agreeing).

• The idea was least popular in central England, where 9% said vets should not check the microchips of animals admitted to their care.

Pet Theft

Dogs

• People from the Republic of Ireland were most likely to have had a dog or more than one dog stolen (24%), and were also most likely to have had a dog or more than one dog go missing (36%).

• Those from northern England or south west England were least likely to have had a dog or more than one dog stolen, with only 5% of people saying they had. However, of all the regions surveyed, the fewest owners reported dogs going missing in Northern Ireland (14%).

Cats

• Central England has witnessed the highest number of cat thefts, with 11% of owners saying their cat was stolen. Cats in south west England are most likely to go missing, with 32% of people in the region saying they had experienced this loss.

• However, no cat thefts took place in the Republic of Ireland, the survey revealed, and this is also the region with the lowest incidence of cats going missing (12%).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from TLF Research.
Total sample size was 1,000 adults of which 544 are dog owners, 279 are cat owners and 177 own dogs and cats.
Fieldwork was undertaken in May 2014.  The survey was carried out online.
The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About Author

Elena Barnard

Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena Barnardand I’m a dog-owner, fish-keeper, bunny-adopter, horse-rider and a blogger for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to give you all the latest on animal welfare, our charity work, pet care, and bits and bobs about our animal chums from all over the planet, be they furry, feathered or fishy! If you have something to say then give us a comment or get in touch on social media.

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