Outdated microchips are one of the most “chronically overlooked” areas of dog ownership and a flaw landowners could claim with a hefty fine.
A staggering 69% of dogs reportedly taken to vets or shelters for treatment because suspected strays have incorrect or missing details on their microchip could prove to be costly mistakes for their loved ones.
The law requires all dogs over eight weeks old to have a microchip that is registered in a valid database or owners risk a £ 500 fine and prosecution.
But owners who don’t update their contact information months and years later face the risk of their beloved family pooch being classified as a stray, as well as financial punishment – which “in most cases,” says the PDSA, when animals are with the wrong animals introduced or missing information.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, an estimated 3.2 million pets purchased in the UK have been overlooked as of March 2020.
The cost of a dog’s microchip is around £ 15 to £ 20 through a local veterinarian, but some organizations, including animal welfare organizations and animal shelters, often hold free sessions as well.
While vets can give your dog their first microchip, your registered practice doesn’t automatically update your chip details for you when you tell them a change in address or contact number – unless they specifically offer this service.
Instead, dog owners are solely responsible for updating their own contact details when switching to the database through which the dog chip is registered.
To locate the database responsible for your pet’s chip, you first need to know the animal’s unique code, which can be found on the chip certificate itself, veterinary records, a pet passport, or animal insurance information, among other things.
Owners can then enter the code on the check-your-chip website, which was set up in 2011 to help veterinarians, rescue centers, zookeepers and owners find out which database the registration for a particular microchip number is in.
Once you find the database that is responsible for holding your data, you can contact them directly to ensure they have the latest and most up-to-date contact information.
The RSPCA warns that owners who fail to bother keeping their contact information up to date risk a £ 500 fine – the same penalty as those who fail to bother chipping their animals in the first place .
The website says, “If your contact details change and you don’t update your details in the database, you may also receive a notification and may face a £ 500 fine.
“A dog is only excluded from the microchip if a veterinarian certifies in writing that it is not allowed to be chipped for health reasons.”
Natalie Wells of the Wood Green The Animals Charity charity said reuniting dogs and owners without valid contact information was nearly impossible for shelters, and if stray animals cannot be reunited, owners risk finding a new home for their coveted animal.
She said, “It remains extremely difficult to locate an owner when the microchip details are out of date as many people do not know what to do if their dog is missing.
“In these cases, owners need to find the dog on their own instead of just being notified that their dog has been found.”