Microchipping of dogs and cats should be an essential part of dog ownership and a new law will certainly help more people get their dogs chipped. A fine of £500 is proposed for those that do not comply.
However will this be totally effective in reducing the number of strays or dangerous dogs as the government believes?
I personally believe that it will help with strays to a certain degree. The majority of owners these days do have their dogs microchipped as standard so it should not impact on too many people. The law may also help to educate those that have pets but do not know about microchipping. However for the most part, those owners who do have their dogs microchipped are also the owners who are most likely to go to extreme lengths to find their dogs if they do go missing. Whilst sadly the majority of strays in kennels are dumped for a specific reason, whether it be behaviour or medical or just unwanted pets, and the previous owners of these do not want to be located and so will most likely not get a pet microchipped even if it is a legal requirement. So sadly there will always be strays.
Another issue that has been raised in many areas is the policing of the microchip...will police patrol with dog scanners on them through the parks to identify if a dog is microchipped or not? Will vets be required to report those that aren't microchipped?
Sadly, owners of dogs who are being used for fighting or are of a banned / dangerous breed, I don't think will microchip their dog. They have a clear disregard for the previously set laws and unless their dog is seized, I am unsure how this new law will be enforced. I don't believe either that it will deter people from purchasing and breeding dangerous dogs as these people are already ambivalent towards the law.
Personally I believe microchipping is a great thing for all pet owners, but is it the answer to strays and dangerous dogs? No I don't think it is.
I believe there should be stricter breeding laws and breeders should have legal obligations to ensure that dogs that they breed are of a sound temperament. I believe that breeders should have to apply for a licence to breed, and government should have a tight control on these. Certain breed crosses should not be allowed, there is no reason to breed dogs for a size and stature that is only suitable for fighting.
I don't believe either that the Dangerous Dogs Act is up to date, and whilst the 3 breeds that are banned have specific size, build and temperaments to be more dangerous than other breeds with different statures, is it right to put to sleep all dogs of these breed?
I think we should be looking at an act based on the deed not the breed. Yes a pitt bull is stronger and can cause more damage than a labrador, but not all pit bulls will attack and fight, in fact most wont. It is usually down to the owner and how they are brought up. In the United States, pitt bulls are not an illegal dog, and many make wonderful family pets as well as service dogs. In fact the US army use pitt bulls in Afghanistan, where these dogs have saved lives, and yet if they were to enter the UK would be put to sleep immediately. So why should we tar all pitt bulls with the same brush? If a dog causes damage to a person or another dog, it should be judged on that particular deed regardless of breed.
As it stands sadly, there are numerous dogs that are being fought for in court who have come from loving family homes, who have committed no crime, never bitten, never injured or done anything untoward in their life. Who are then ripped from their family based purely on looks. The case of Lennox in Northern Ireland springs to mind. A childs dog who was seized despite no one complaining, who then spent 2 years in kennels awaiting an outcome that was sadly to be put to sleep. His crime? He was a labrador crossed with an American bulldog and looked like a pitt bull. Is this right? I dont think so.
I do not want to see more dangerous dogs on the street, however if you take the stigma away from the dog, perhaps people will try less hard to find them illegally? Should their not be a bigger crackdown on dog fighting rings so that these dog's have no reason to be bred as fighters? Control on breeding to stop certain breeds being mixed and developed? Fines for minor issues and severe penalties for any injury?
Microchipping is a start in the right direction, but I certainly believe that there is more needed to tackle the issue of strays and dangerous dogs.