No longer in the UK will owners have to think about microchipping their pets, the decision is going to be made for them, by law.

Members of the UK Parliament have joined with their Kennel Club and the Microchipping Alliance in a reminder to the general UK public of the benefits of microchipping and the importance of keeping the details of their owners updated. This has been held as part of National Microchipping Month 2012, which takes places throughout June, and it comes after the government has announced their package of measures to deal with irresponsible dog ownership which proposes bringing forward compulsory microchipping.

This means microchipping will be mandatory for all dogs by April 2016. The cost of microchipping is around £20-£30 ($13-$20) and the government says that owners who refuse to abide by the changes to the Animal Welfare Act will face a fine of up to £500 ($330).

The microchips, which are implanted in the shoulder blades of the dog, are as small as a grain of rice with a code that once scanned by the appropriate machine and input into a database divulges the full contact details of its owners to the vets.

The procedure of microchip placement is quick, simple and does not even involve an anaesthetic! It has been said that it is not any more painful than a standard vaccination. The chip, which is coated in a bio-compatible glass (the same material used in making human pacemakers) is fused with the dog’s body tissues and does not normally move from its implanted position. Sometimes there is a little movement, but the dogs subcutaneous layer to skin does not allow it to go very far.

So far in the UK, more than four million dogs and cats have been microchipped and every week there are up to 8,000 new registrations.

According to the government, lost or stolen dogs cost the taxpayer and animal charities about £57 ($38) million a year with stats revealing that more than 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost.

With the introduction of microchipping, it will be easier to reunite dogs with their owners reducing the burden on animal charities. A UK Dog Trust survey revealed microchipping accounts for more than 30 percent of pet-owner reunions. Currently there are some charities in the UK which are offering microchipping service to owners for free.

Postal workers are especially vulnerable to dog attacks. About 5,000 postal workers become victims every year and 70 percent of the attacks take place on private property, in yards, driveways, sidewalks and even on private roads, where the UK law currently does not apply. With the new rule, even if a dog attacks somebody on a private land, its owner could face prosecution.

Caroline Kisko, the UK Kennel Club’s Communication Director, said: ‘National Microchipping Month aims to highlight to the public the benefits of microchipping. The importance of microchipping your pet as well as registering and updating your details are crucial in the reunification process and should form a key part of any legislative proposal.

“We are grateful to Members of Parliament for their help in highlighting the importance of microchipping and the need to update your details. This method of permanent identification is an essential element in being a responsible pet owner.”

It has been stated that at present cats are not being held under the same restrictions and microchipping is only, at this point, advisable for feline owners. Microchips can also be implanted in other types of pets, like snakes where some can be stolen for profit leaving heartbroken owners a secure way of proving ownership if the pet is sold on.

At the end of the day, knowing your pet carries around proof of your ownership, dedication and love helps all owners sleep a little easier at night.

Written by: Renee Rhoades-Harrison