A lost or stolen pet is a traumatic event for pet parents, and in the immediate aftermath remembering where you may have stored your pet’s microchip details can add to the rising panic. Your pet going missing is devastating, but a microchip (with up-to-date details) can help make them much easier to identify and bring back home.
With new reports indicating that dog theft is on the rise, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our pets safe.
At present, there are more than 15 UK pet databases3 on the market offering to store your microchip details, making it hard to know where to start if you’ve found a stray or lost pet.
And this isn’t just a problem for pet owners or the general public. Vets, police, local authorities, and rescuers also need to search each individual database to identify a pet’s owner as there is currently no centralised database, making the task of reuniting pet and owner a longer and more challenging process.
Following recommendations stemming from a 2021 Pet Theft Taskforce report, an eight-week consultation sought views on having a single point of access so microchip records can be found quickly to help identify owners and keepers of pets.
As of today, there is still no clear guidance on whether this recommendation will be implemented.
Cats count too!
Since 2016, it has been a legal requirement in the UK for all dogs over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped BUT this law doesn’t currently apply to our feline friends.
The good news though is that any changes to microchipping laws could also apply to cats. After 99% of people supported a proposal to introduce compulsory cat microchipping in a recent consultation4 the Government has announced that from June 2024 cat microchipping will be compulsory before 20 weeks of age. We're supporting evidence-based campaigns that call for tougher pet theft legislation and compulsory microchip scanning by vets and will continue to pressure for compulsory cat microchipping to be made law across the whole of the UK.
What you should know
James Daly MP will present a new Bill on microchips scheduled for further debate in parliament in March 2023. Some of the potential measures being put forward may include:5
Tuk’s Law. The mandatory requirement for vets to scan cats and dogs for microchips before carrying out euthanasia/initiating end of life care.
At 16 months old and healthy, Tuk was euthanised by a vet who failed to scan the dog for his original chip. Had Tuk been checked, it would have become clear that the person requesting euthanasia was not the registered keeper and that a rescue (charity) backup was detailed on the microchip. This unnecessary death launched a petition by campaigners Sue Williams and Dawn Ashley and gathered 121,000 signatures in support.6
Gizmo’s Law. The mandatory requirement to scan for microchips when a cat is found dead by the roadside.
Currently, local authorities must report when a dog is found deceased following a roadside incident and make efforts to return the body to the owner, however, this is not the case with cats. A petition originally undertaken by Helena Abrahams, inspired the campaign after her cat Gizmo was disposed of after being hit by a car, with no attempt made to reunite her with her beloved pet.7 The petition received over 107,000 signatures.8
At Animal Friends, we also want to advocate for the inclusion of Fern’s Law; a separate campaign which seeks to make microchip scanning compulsory when a vet sees a pet for the first time, and/or during a pet’s annual check-up.
Fern’s Law: A petition that seeks to make microchip scanning compulsory upon first presentation at a vet surgery.
While good vet practices always scan a pet for a microchip, it is not currently a mandatory requirement. The petition for Fern’s Law received widespread support with over 112,000 signatures9 after Fern, a female Spaniel, was stolen from Chessington and was only reunited with her owners six years later after being scanned by a vet when she had been found abandoned and brought in as a stray.
If you would like to know more about Fern’s moving story, you can read about it here.10
Animal Friends is supporting the campaign for tougher sentences for pet abduction. We know all pets are family and so we are pushing for the expansion of this law to cover more of our beloved animals.
We're supporting evidence-based campaigns that call for tougher pet theft legislation and compulsory microchip scanning by vets and will continue to pressure MPs to deliver on their commitment of making cat microchipping compulsory.
We are also continuing to support #MakeChipsCount. The campaign aims to make it easier to reunite owners with their much-loved pets by calling for a centralised database to replace the 19 current approved databases, and for the eagerly awaited Pets (Microchipping) Bill to be passed into law, with the inclusion of Fern’s Law, to stop needless euthanasia.
If you feel as passionately as we do about ensuring our pets are protected by our government, please contact your MP and urge them to make it a priority to get these Bills in to law.
- 31 of 43 police forces in England and Wales provided comparable dog theft data for 2020 and 2021 - FOI request made by Dr Daniel Allen on January 1st 2022
- Get your dog microchipped - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Cat microchipping to be made mandatory - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Thousands of dead cats dumped in landfill sites sparks demand for law | Metro News
- Fern’s Law: Compulsory to scan & check microchips to reunite stolen dogs, cats. - Petitions (parliament.uk)
- “Hello Mrs Ferrier. I think we have your dog", Fern had been stolen 6 years before and Jodie relives that fateful day #FernsLaw - Vets Get Scanning