A survey of pet owners carried out by online retailer MedicAnimal has revealed that many pet owners will rebel against compulsory microchipping legislation – of those whose dogs are not chipped only one in four intend to comply by the April deadline. Comments made by pet owners about the move included complaints about ‘government dictatorship’, an attack on ‘freedom of choice’, ‘big brother’ mentality and anger that the initiative penalises responsible dog owners.
Welfare was another big concern, with worries over adverse reactions to chips, the wisdom of chipping a dog that was old or debilitated and an objection to chipping a much loved member of the family.
An additional area of rebellion is the requirement to keep contact details relating to the microchip up to date. Of those that had cause to change their details, 31 per cent confessed they have never updated them. Some commented on what they said was the unreasonably high cost to change address details which in some cases is about 75 per cent of the original cost of the chip. As one pet owner commented, “This is totally unacceptable. I can change my bank details etc without charge.” Another said, “I found it extraordinarily complicated and long winded to change my address.”
Nearly 150 pet owners responded to the survey and 26 per cent of dog owners said their pet was not chipped. Of those, 53 per cent said they had no intention of having their dog chipped and 20 per cent are currently undecided, meaning the vast majority of the unchipped have no positive plans to comply. Around half of those surveyed said they did not know that microchipping of dogs was to become compulsory until informed by MedicAnimal.
Although it won’t be compulsory to microchip cats, 60 per cent of respondents said their cat was already chipped. Of the remainder, only one in four are likely to microchip in the future.
However, microchipping can be hugely beneficial, both in terms of reuniting pets and owners and reducing the burden on animal charities. Losing a pet is relatively common and 24 per cent of respondents said they had lost a pet. In most cases (47 per cent) the pet had just disappeared, where the reason was known it was most common for the pet to escape from a home or garden (22 per cent) and another 16 per cent had run off during a walk. Five per cent said their pet has been let out of the house or garden maliciously. Of those who had lost a pet, 14 per cent said their pet was returned to them as a result of being chipped.
Andrew Bucher, Vet and MedicAnimal founder, says the company feels it is important to give pet owners a voice, “While some people have positive experiences of microchips and appreciate the benefits, there is clearly a group that feel disenfranchised by having microchipping enforced upon them and some genuine concern over the wellbeing of pets. Whilst I understand there are occasionally some reactions to the microchip, I believe strongly that the risk is very much outweighed by the benefit of finding your lost or stolen dog. Any dog charity in the country will tell you how common it is to have an animal put to sleep as a result of no owner being found. The bigger issue here is how enforceable this new law will be and the fact that non-responsible dog owners may ‘get away with it’. Veterinarians can also help with dog theft by ensuring that all new client dogs are scanned prior to registration at their clinic and more pressure has to be applied to the microchipping industry to reduce the disproportionate cost of updating owner details.”
What pet owners said:
“I don’t trust the government. They could be putting anything into our pets”.
“I doubt that microchips do not have negative side effects on cats or dogs mainly as this technology interacts with radio frequencies emitted by cell phone towers, just to give one example. We simply don’t know what the long-term effects on behaviour, endocrine and immune system will be.”
“I was out in the woods with my dog and we heard hunting shots fired in the distance, my dog freaked out and ran off. We spent three hours looking for her. As it happens she had run straight home and a neighbour had seen her run down the road and so opened our back gate and let her into our rear garden. But it could have been so different especially as she ran down the middle of the road until she reached our house and could have been injured and taken away before she reached the garden and we had returned. Microchipping is a life saver as far as I am concerned and I am glad it is becoming law. They should also bring back the dog license too!”
“I think there should be system that scans animals in vets as people who take other people’s pets often do not tell vet it was found, maybe make it a logging in for appointments system, that way there is no more pet stealing.”
“I would like to update my details for the microchips on my dogs but want to charge me £16 per dog. This is totally unacceptable. I can change my bank details etc without charge so why? A tax on responsible pet owners perhaps?”
“I do not agree with compulsory micro chipping, microchips can migrate and cause problems as in one of my own pets, this law will have no effect on irresponsible pet owners. A suitable collar and information tag is still the best way forward, and as this is the law at the moment how many people adhere to this? Any future dog I have will not be microchipped by me.”
“I found it extraordinarily complicated and long winded to change my address with. The complications are entirely unnecessary and very time consuming. Obviously many pet owners just give up!”
“She will be 15 years old and I can crawl faster than she walks she does not like vet get very stressed so do not want to put her through that.”