Microchipping is about to be made compulsory in Ireland – from autumn 2015 for puppies, then from spring 2016 for all adult dogs. On Friday the 20th February 2015, Minister Simon Coveney signed into law the new regulations on the compulsory microchipping of dogs.
The main points of the proposed regime are listed below:
- From the 1st September 2015 all pups must be microchipped by the time they reach the age of 12 weeks or before they leave the property on which they were born. The microchipping must be registered with an approved database and the breeder or owner must have a certificate from the database with the pup’s details and the owner’s details on it.
- From the 1st September 2015 it will be illegal to sell, supply, buy or take ownership of a pup that does not have a certificate of microchip registration from an approved Database.
- As a consequence, breeders will be getting litters of pups microchipped/ registered as groups (e.g. six in a litter of pups) and so the unit cost of having this done is likely to be lower
- The cost of microchipping/registration will be covered by the breeder but will then need to be recouped from the new owner, so pups are likely to cost a bit more as a result
- From March 31st 2016, all dogs must be microchipped, their details registered on an approved database, and their owners must have a certificate from the database to prove this.
- From March 31st 2016, it will be illegal to sell, supply, buy or take ownership of a dog that does not have a certificate of microchip registration from an approved database.
- It will be the responsibility of the registered owner of the dog to ensure that the details stored on the database are always correct and up to date and they should inform the database of changes to addresses and contact details if they occur. These changes must also be recorded on the certificate.
- Any dog microchipped prior to the commencement of these regulations DO NOT need to be re-chipped. The owner must however ensure that their details are stored on an approved database, their details are correct and the database will then supply them with a certificate confirming this.There will be a small cost for getting this done.
- A microchip must be of a specific technical standard and the supplier of it must have a contract with an approved database for the storage of the data.
- Any Vet or Vet Nurse who microchips and registers a dog must have a unique identifying code(U.I.C.) that is issued by an approved database and this number is to be used to record registrations and will be contained on the certificate.
- All Vets and Nurses must complete a training course with an approved database to allow them to register data with that database.
No decision has been made yet as to what databases will be give ‘Authorised Database’ status but currently the only Irish databases that are members of Europetnet (which is a core requirement to become an Approved Database) are Animark, Fido, IKC and PetTrace (DSPCA).
The cost implications for dog owners
From September onwards, all new pups will be microchipped/registered and the cost will be part of the price of the puppy. There should be no further costs to the owner unless they need to update the registration (eg change of address etc) when there will be a small processing fee charged by the database.
For adult dogs that are already chipped, there will be the small cost of paying for a certificate to be issued by the database,
For adult dogs that are currently not chipped there will be a one off cost to get this done
The cost of microchipping adult dogs varies from €20 to €50 including VAT. It is not always “like for like” – sometimes the microchip has been registered on a small scale, cheaper database that does not tie in with international databases. In the future, all approved databases will be internationally approved, so this will not happen any more.
The cost of the implanting of microchips and data registration services has been falling, and this will be further helped by the economies of scale that the new compulsory scheme will bring.
A number of subsidised micro chipping initiatives have been introduced by a number of animal welfare charities to assist those who are financially disadvantaged.
As it stands the only persons who are authorised to implant microchips for the purposes of the mandatory scheme are vets and vet nurses. This may change but there currently are no lay persons who are legally permitted to implant microchips for the purposes of the mandatory scheme. A pet owner will never be permitted to implant and register their own dogs – it has to be done by an independent authorised person. Even vets and vet nurses are not allowed to implant and register their own dogs: this has to be done by an independent person.
Does this mean that all dogs will now have to be licensed as well as microchipped?
There are no plans for a link between the microchip databases (held by private databases that are registered with the Dept of Agriculture) and the dog licence database (held by individual Local Authorities under the Dept of Environment).
However I suspect that some owners may refuse to get their adult dogs microchipped because of fears that once they are on a government database, they will be hunted down for the dog licence fee (€20 per year). This fear is unjustified (although in fact of course it would be obvious way to increase compliance with dog licensing, which is currently effectively a “voluntary tax” with very low uptake).
In 2014, 190000 dog licences were issued, while the estimated population of dogs in Ireland is more than 600000, suggesting compliance of around 33% or less.
Who will check to see if dogs are microchipped?
Authorised Officers under the Animal Health and Welfare Bill i.e. Gardai, Department of Agriculture Vets, ISPCA and DSPCA inspectors, and in some cases Local Authority vets and dog wardens.
These individuals can require a dog owner to present their dog to scan for a chip and also request a copy of the chip’s registration certificate. If the dog is not chipped or if it is chipped but not registered on an Approved Database then the officer has the authority to compel a dog owner to become compliant. To have a dog that is not compliant is a criminal offence.
Your local vet will have no power to force anyone to microchip their pet but will advise a person that they should do so to be compliant.
If an owner refuses to chip their dog the vet may be obliged to report it to an authorised officer (we don’t know yet if that will be the case). Even if they are not obliged to do so they can do so if they feel it is in the best interest of animal welfare.
We discussed the regulations on this week’s Pat Kenny Show, as well as taking the usual questions from listeners.
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