Legislation laid before Scottish Parliament.
Plans to make dog microchips compulsory in Scotland have taken a major step forward today, as legislation is laid before the Scottish Parliament.
The law change – which received overwhelming support in a public consultation last year – is due to come into effect in Scotland in April 2016, the same time as in England and Wales.
Under the new rules, all dogs will need to be microchipped and their owners' details registered and kept up to date in a database complying with certain conditions.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead - the Scottish Government Minister with lead responsibility for animal welfare – said:
"Today marks an important milestone towards compulsory microchipping, which will help reduce the number of lost and abandoned dogs in Scotland - safeguarding animal welfare and promoting responsible ownership.
"As well as reuniting pets with their owners, it will allow authorities to directly identify dog owners and hold them accountable for their dogs' behaviour and welfare.
"With less than six months to go until the law changes, I encourage all dog owners to ensure that their dogs are microchipped and, just as importantly, that their details are up to date."
Ahead of the new rules coming into force, Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, is offering free microchipping to all unchipped dogs in Scotland at mobile drop-in events and at its two rehoming centres.
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said:
"For many years Dogs Trust has been working with the Scottish Government to bring about the introduction of compulsory microchipping. We are therefore very pleased to welcome the legislation, which will improve dog welfare and responsible ownership.
"As the UK's largest dog welfare charity, reducing Scotland's stray dog population of over 1,400 dogs* is at the very heart of Dogs Trust's ethos. This is why we have committed to ensuring dog owners have access to free microchipping at our two Scottish rehoming centres in Glasgow and West Calder, or at one of our many drop-in events across the country.
"So far this year Dogs Trust has microchipped over 11,000 dogs across Scotland. We continue to remind owners that no matter how responsible they are, there is a chance their dog could get lost or stolen – microchipping is the most effective way to assist in a lost dog being returned to their owner. However, to enable this it is important that owners keep their database details up to date."
The Scottish Government's intention to make microchipping dogs compulsory was announced in March 2015: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Chip-in-16dd.aspx
The Scottish Government consultation on 'Promoting responsible dog ownership in Scotland: microchipping and other measures' ran from December 2013 to March 2014 and received a huge total of 2,378 responses. The results of the analysis of those responses was published in October 2014. More than 83 per cent of people who responded to the Scottish Government's consultation on responsible dog ownership strongly supported compulsory microchipping: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/10/4357
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (which applies to England, Scotland and Wales) it is already a legal requirement in the UK for dogs defined as dangerous dogs to be microchipped. The Scottish Government have also ensured that that the owners of other dangerous or out of control dogs can be required to microchip their dogs by the issue of a Dog Control Notice under the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.
The Scottish Government has long recommended in the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs that microchipping is an effective method of identifying animals that can help re-unite dogs with owners where the dogs have been lost or stolen.
Northern Ireland made microchipping of dogs compulsory from the April 1, 2012; Wales and England intend to introduce it in April 2016, which is also the timetable that the Scottish Government is working towards.
*Dogs Trust 2015 Stray Dogs Survey