Fern’s Law petition, which is waiting for a debate in Parliament, calls for vets, rescues and authorities to check microchips at first treatment to reunite stolen and missing microchipped cats and dogs.
The Kennel Clubs post:- During 2020 James Daly MP introduced a Bill into the House of Commons containing provisions for compulsory microchip scanning. The Bill consists of two sections, otherwise known as Tuk’s Law and Gizmo’s Law.
Tuk’s Law would ensure that no healthy or treatable pet can be euthanised by a vet without having its microchip scanned first and that no dog can be destroyed without the expressed permission of its registered keeper. The law would also ensure that all other options of rehousing a healthy or treatable pet have been exhausted before euthanasia.
It is important to note that microchip databases maintain the details of the keeper of the animal, which will not always be the same person as the owner.
Gizmo’s Law, proposed to apply to cats only, would make it a legal requirement for all local authorities to scan a microchip of a deceased cat in order to return it to the registered keeper and to notify Deceased Cats UK when a deceased cat is discovered without a microchip in order for them to reunite the animal with its keeper.
Current legislation, guidance and recommendations
Whilst microchipping has been compulsory for dogs in England since 2016, there are currently no legal requirements for veterinarians, local authorities or highways agencies to scan dogs or cats in any circumstance. In May 2020, the UK Government announced it was considering scanning requirements as part of the ongoing post-implementation review of the microchipping regulations.
The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) guidance recommends that an animal should be scanned for the presence of a microchip when admitted for treatment ‘if considered appropriate’. The BVA also newly recommends scanning before euthanasia and in other circumstances, including: prior to microchip implantation; on first presentation at the practice; on presentation of a lost, stray or seemingly unowned animal; annually as routine; and on admission for treatment or hospitalisation. It currently does not recommend compulsory scanning of all dogs at every presentation, highlighting that this would misunderstand both the powers of veterinarians and pose potential welfare harms to both animals and humans.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has highlighted that veterinarians are currently not obliged to scan microchips prior to euthanasia nor confirm that the person presenting the animal and signing the consent to euthanasia form is registered on the microchip as the animal’s keeper. This would be legally required to change in the event of the compulsory scanning Bill being made into law.
The Kennel Club’s position
The Kennel Club welcomes the proposed legal requirement for microchip scanning prior to a pet being euthanised. In the event of a rescue dog being taken to a veterinary practice by its keeper for euthanasia, compulsory scanning will be an important step towards ensuring that treatable and otherwise healthy animals are returned to rescue centres rather than being euthanised.
We are mindful that for trusted, long-standing owners bringing their beloved pets in to be euthanised as a last resort, for example, compulsory scanning may create unnecessary stress during what is an already emotional and distressful time. In such circumstances, whereby the keeper has repeatedly brought their pet to the practice, we believe that vets should have some discretion in relation to scanning.
Ensuring that this Bill applies only in the event of euthanasia – and not for every treatment or admission – is important for animal welfare. In the event of a stolen or lost dog, compulsory scanning upon every presentation could result in people feeling reluctant to bring the animal in if they fear punishment or confiscation, potentially posing threats to the animal’s welfare. As well as this, scanning and checking the relevant database can be time consuming and, if required upon every presentation, would be unlikely to be completed in a meaningful way. This could have unintended consequences for other animals and their owners, such as a reduced number of available appointments and increased costs for owners to burden. We would like to see greater adoption of technological advances, such as the Halo Scanner, which can scan a microchip and automatically flag a lost or stolen animal within eight seconds. This would make the process both quicker and easier for veterinarians.
When healthy or treatable pets are brought to veterinary practices to be euthanised, it is vitally important that veterinarians are able to seriously consider whether there are alternatives to euthanasia and to relay those options to the pet’s keeper. e.g. if a healthy or treatable pedigree dog is brought in to be euthanised, we hope that the veterinarian would provide information to the owner regarding breed rescue groups. The Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations rehome approximately 10,000 dogs each year and The Kennel Club supports such organisations by publishing a directory of the many breed rescue organisations that exist around the UK.
The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme allows those seeking to buy a puppy to do so in a responsible way. In order to obtain the accreditation, breeders must commit to help – if necessary – with the rehoming of any dog that they breed within the scheme, throughout the dog’s lifetime and for any reason. This measure is in place specifically to prevent the euthanasia of an otherwise healthy pedigree dog.
We emphasise the importance of veterinarians following the best practice guidelines regarding scanning, particularly on first presentation at the practice to ensure dogs are microchipped and contact details are up to date. It is crucial that microchips are registered with Defra-compliant national databases, such as Petlog, which play an instrumental role in reuniting owners and their pets in the event of loss or theft. It is worth noting that Petlog typically receives more calls regarding dogs being found than calls to alert the database of a lost dog: e.g., between January and September 2020, there was a total of 7,698 calls reporting lost dogs versus 12,011 calls reporting found dogs. This suggests that the current system is working effectively and reuniting dogs with their keepers before they even recognise that their dog is missing. Further to this, the Petlog database – run by The Kennel Club – currently holds the details of the previous keeper of the animal and any rescue details even after the pet has been transferred. This ensures that a more detailed background history of the animal – including where a pet has been and how many keepers it has previously had – is easily accessible to veterinarians or keepers contacting the database in the event of an emergency, for example.
We welcome the proposal to create Gizmo’s law and urge this legal requirement to also be extended to dogs. It is our hope that, upon discovery of a deceased dog, local authorities would be legally obliged to scan its microchip in order to alert the registered keeper of the dog’s death.
Fern’s Law have created a backup petition because we felt we were being pushed out of the microchip discussion. This campaign started in 2006 to help stolen pets get home.
#MakeChipsCount : https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/551556
Petition: Create a single database of microchipped cats and dogs & make scanning mandatory
There are two major flaws with the current compulsory microchipping system: optional scanning & the lack of a single database. There are 13 microchip databases on the government list, independent commercial enterprises, different processes & no interest in creating a central standardised register!More details
To confuse matters further, microchipping databases which do not meet government standards continue to trade, and often rank highly on search engines. If you register on an unlisted database, not only can you be fined £500 but your pet’s microchip will read as unregistered when scanned.
The Government should introduce a single database of microchipped cats and dogs, and make it compulsory for chips to be checked at 1st veterinary appointment.