Owners urged to make microchip resolution.
Dog owners across Scotland are being urged to make it their New Year's resolution to get their animal microchipped.
From April, it will be compulsory for all dogs in Scotland to have a chip with their owners' details registered and kept up to date in a database complying with certain conditions.
The forthcoming change in the law was highlighted by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead -the Scottish Government Minister with lead responsibility for animal welfare - on a visit to the Dogs Trust rehoming centre in West Calder.
Mr Lochhead said
"Now is the time many of us make New Year's resolutions – and I urge all dog owners to make it a priority to get their dog microchipped before the law changes and it becomes mandatory in April.
"Compulsory microchipping 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.
"Dogs Trust is offering free microchipping at its two rehoming centres in Scotland, as well as at selected veterinary practices until the middle of January, and until March at mobile drop-in events.
"My New Year message to all dog owners is to make 2016 the year of your dog and make the most of the free microchipping offers while they are available."
Susan Tonner, Dogs Trust West Calder Rehoming Centre Manager said:
"We were delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to West Calder to meet Stephanie, a 6 month old Shih Tzu puppy, who has been looking for a new home and will happily be joining her new family very soon. Sadly, Stephanie was not microchipped when she was found straying by the local authorities, so they were unable to find her owners.
"Dogs Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity, with our West Calder centre having rehomed 11,000 dogs since it opened its doors in 1994. Reducing Scotland's stray dog population of over 1,400 dogs* is at the very heart of our ethos, which 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.
"We are pleased that from April microchipping will be compulsory in Scotland, but we continue to remind owners that no matter how responsible they are, there is a chance their dog could get lost like Stephanie. 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 regulations were laid before the Scottish Parliament on December 2, 2015: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Mandatory-dog-microchips-1ff9.aspx
Details of the Dogs Trust free microchipping offer can be found at www.chipmydog.org.uk
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
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