Thank you for contacting me about pet microchipping.
To their owners, pets are cherished members of the family and I understand that their disappearance and deaths can cause a lot of distress.
I am pleased that microchipping for dogs became compulsory for animals over eight weeks of age across England, Scotland and Wales in 2016. One year after the Government introduced this policy, the Dogs Trust reported a reduction of 18 per cent in the total stray dog population. In 2016, UK local authorities collected 81,000 strays, while in 2018 this fell to 56,000.
I am pleased that the Government is committed to improving the welfare of cats and has a manifesto commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping of cats. Last year, Defra published a call for evidence on compulsory microchipping for cats, which attracted over 3,000 responses. I am aware that the responses are now being assessed, with a view to publishing the summary of these in due course. In the meantime, I would encourage all cat owners to make the sensible choice to microchip their felines, ensuring relevant records are kept up to date.
I agree with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) that it is good practise for vets to scan dogs presented to them in order to check details of their owner. With approximately 90 per cent of dogs estimated to be microchipped, it is second nature for many vets to perform a scan, particularly for a first-time visit. Indeed, this is widely practised throughout the UK. In its response to a recent petition on this issue, the Government noted this guidance but also said that it is considering proposals for the compulsory scanning of dogs before euthanasia by vets.