MPs told that Defra approved registers can be difficult to use and often include innacurate data
Dog owners are having to get up in the middle of the night to prove their pets have been microchipped – because a database keeps crashing.
Leading vets have criticised the operation of the new compulsory chipping laws, designed to make it easier to trace lost or stolen dogs. And the records of up to 40% of dogs that have been chipped and registered are wrong, a parliamentary enquiry has been told.
Since 6 April, the details of all dogs aged eight weeks or over – in England and Scotland – must be recorded on one of the databases approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Any dog owners caught failing to register are given 21 days to comply or face a £500 fine. The details – including the name and address of the owner – must also be kept up to date.
But John Chitty, vice president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), said: “It’s incredibly difficult to register a chip, because the site is so overwhelmed it’s crashing the whole time.
“We have had feedback that the only time you can really register is probably in the middle of the night – which is what our local dog warden is doing.”
Owners can register microchipped dogs on a a number of Defra approved databases, mostly run by charities, but the inquiry by the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee heard that registration problems are common and the databases often contain inaccuracies.
Neil Parish, the committee’s Conservative chairman, said: “Blue Cross and others have said that 30-40% of dogs that come in and are microchipped, that the microchips are not accurate or they are out of date.”
Chitty replied: “I think that’s a very fair figure.”
Many local authority dog wardens offer services to residents to both microchip and register their pets, but more than 100,000 dogs are thought to be lost or stolen or stray every year, with 6,000 put to sleep because their owner cannot be traced.
Microchipping for dogs in Wales became law in March 2015, while Northern Ireland led the way by making it compulsory as far back as April 2012.