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Microchips ahoy! say the Brits


A new law in Great Britain requires that all dogs must be microchipped by 2016 “or else,” according to Gllian Pensavalle on Buzz:60. The “or else,” in this case, is a fine that amounts to about $800 in U.S. currency. Ouch! (Cats, by the way, are exempt from the new law.)

Montana, an adoptable Chihuahua

Montana, a Chihuahua, is microchipped and ready for a new home at Animal Rescue League of El Paso.

Calling it a shame that so many dogs are roaming the streets because their people can’t be found, the U.K.’s Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said in a statement reported by Raphael Satter for the Associated Press, “Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners.”

In Britain, there are an estimated 13.3 million dogs, and Pensavalle says about 8 million dogs already have microchips, or about 60% of the pooch population. By contrast, there are approximately 78.2 million dogs in the U.S., but because of multiple registries for microchips and adopters’ failure to register the chips, it’s hard to guess how many dogs in the U.S. are microchipped.  ( says that about a quarter of European pets — not just dogs — have a microchip implant, while only about 5% of the approximately 130 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are microchipped).

When the law was proposed in Great Britain, an article in The Christian Science Monitor reported that opponents charged that the government was becoming more of a nanny state, so you can bet that a federal bill in the U.S. that mandated microchipping would have a tough time making it through Congress.

The Portland Statesman Journal reported that a bill to microchip all California shelter dogs failed in 2011 when the governor vetoed it and wrote, “Under current law, local agencies and shelters can — and should — require animals to be microchipped before being released. There is no need for state law to mandate the procedure, which would then require the state to pay for it.”

In the U.S. mandatory microchipping has already occurred on a local basis. For instance, the El Paso, TX, website reports that such a law went into effect in the border city in 2007. But as for making such a law nationwide? I suspect advocates would have to chip away at strong opposition to get federal legislation passed no matter how much it would help our pets get safely back home when lost.

Learn more about microchipping from HomeAgain, a national pet recovery database.

Tell us: Would you support mandatory microchipping? Why or why not?


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