National Chipping Week – vet spot on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

This week – 12th to 19th August – is National Chipping Week in Ireland. Listen to the podcast below to find out more, or read on.

What is National Chipping Week?

During this week, all pet owners are being asked to focus on their pet’s microchip.

  • All dogs must be microchipped under Irish law
  • Has your pet been microchipped? If not, why not?
  • Is the information recorded on the chip database up to date?
  • Do you have your own copy of the microchip certificate for your dog? If not, why not?

What is a microchip?

  • Microchips are tiny, rice-sized, silicon-coated cylinders that are technically known as Radio Frequency Identification devices. They provide permanent identification of pets after being injected under the skin of animals.
  • They can be used in any animal, from dogs to cats to parrots to tortoises, and it’s been compulsory to have all dogs microchipped since 2016.
  • The best comparison is to say that they are like bar code scanners, except that they work using radiowaves rather than lightwaves. So whereas a bar code scanner has to shine the light directly onto the bar code, microchip scanners can be read through short distances of opaque material like skin and muscle.

How does a microchip work?

The microchip is a tiny radio transmitter with two key features.

  • First, its radio message only contains one thing: a fifteen digit number, like a barcode.
  • Second, the radio message is only transmitted intermittently, when a microchip scanner is passed over it. The radio message is converted by the scanner to a fifteen digit number that can be read on the screen of the scanner.
  • A key point is that this fifteen digit number is the only information on the microchip: by itself, the number is useless.
  • The fifteen digit number has to be stored in a database where it’s labelled with the pet owner’s full contact details.

How are my home details kept confidential from stalkers?

It’s important that this information is not available to everyone who wants to look: privacy laws mean that only properly authorised people (such as vets and dog pounds) are able to access microchip databases.

Why bother with microchips?

Microchips have transformed the world of pet identification. If a dog is microchipped as a young puppy (which it now has to be, in Ireland), then it’s identified for life from the beginning. Under Irish law, puppies must be microchipped before they change hands, whether being sold (like most pedigree pups) or just being given free of charge to a new owner (like most cross-bred dogs, and rescue dogs). This microchipping must be done by a registered microchip implanter, usually a vet or a vet nurse. Special forms have to be used, with the owner’s contact details being confirmed by showing the implanter their photo ID and proof of address.

Where is the owner information stored?

Special government-registered microchip databases must be used.
There are four such databases in Ireland

  • Fido
  • Animark
  • Irish Kennel Club
  • Microdog ID Ltd.

All four databases send data to a central European dog microchip database, called Europetnet. This means that if someone finds your dog, they just need to enter the number into one search engine, at Europetnet. This will redirect them to the local Irish database that will allow them to find out your details and reunite you with your dog.

What else do dog owners need to do apart from having their pet microchipped and registered?

Under Irish law, as well as having your dog microchipped, you must also be in possession of a Statutory Certificate of Microchipping from your dog’s microchip database. This should be sent to you once your dog has been microchipped and the implanter has completed and returned the registration details. This certificate is similar to the registration documents for your car: you are obliged to store it carefully, and if you sell or rehome your dog, the registration has to be transferred to the new owner.

What can be done if you don’t have a Certificate of Microchipping?

Unfortunately, many owners don’t have certificates of registration, even if their dog is chipped. And this is where National Chipping Week comes in.

  • Dogs Trust is offering a Microchip Certificate Amnesty, allowing dog owners across the country to avail of a free microchipping certificate from Fido, as long as their dog is already chipped.
  • If you are unsure of your dog’s microchip number, visit your local veterinary practice and ask to have your dog scanned with a microchip reader. They’ll write this down for you, and you can then apply via for your free microchip registration and certificate (it normally costs around €15 to get this done).
  • Remember, if you change address or phone number, or transfer ownership of your dog, you must update the details recorded against your dog’s microchip straight away with your dog’s microchip database provider. If you don’t do this, the person who scans your dog won’t be able to find you.

Come to the Dogs Trustival on Sunday 18th August

To celebrate a decade of rescuing and rehoming dogs in Ireland, Dogs Trust is holding a festival-themed event, Dogs Trustival, at their Rehoming Centre on Sunday, 18th of August from 12pm to 5pm.
Our exciting new family festival will be jam packed with all things doggie and an array of fun-filled entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, including:

  • Training displays with some of the most talented Dogs Trust residents and their Canine Carers
  • “Tailwagger Walk” market, full of doggie retail and exhibitions and delicious street food vendors
  • A children’s’ “Education Corner” with face-painting
  • Doggie Agony Aunts
  • A “Pup Up” photo booth with Pawtrait
  • The “Museum of Modern Bark”, where a host of well-known Irish artists, including Audrey Hamilton, Morgan and the Jam Art Factory will exhibit dog portraits to be raffled at the event
  • For people bringing their own dogs, there will be designated activity areas to let your dogs have fun and explore too
  • Tickets for the day are €15 for adults, €8 for children, €35 for a family (2 adults, 2 children) and dogs are welcome for free

This will be a great fundraising idea for Dogs Trust, and it will be enjoyable for everyone

Questions about pets from listeners

The following questions were asked by listeners this week:

  • My cat Tilly has a lump on her side that is weeping clear liquid, but she hates going to the vet. What should I do?
  • My two cats have unretractable nails, so they need to be trimmed, but they won’t let me do this. What can I do?
  • We found newborn baby squirrels when making a deck at the back of our house. What can we do to help them?
  • Is it fair to drag dogs along behind a person who is running? I saw someone doing this with a German Shepherd wearing a muzzle

Listen to the podcast to hear the discussion and answers to each of these.

After the radio spot, I did a Facebook Live video session answering further questions, which you can watch here.

Listen to the podcast:

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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