Government Proposes Compulsory Dog Microchips

Maria Penny, Associate & Personal Injury Solicitor

Whilst obviously this will make it easier to trace the owners of lost or abandoned dogs I am not convinced it will solve the inherent problem of irresponsible ownership.

As a dog owner myself I take care to ensure my dog is well behaved and restrain him in public places just in case.  My dog is hardly a dangerous breed-a cavalier king charles spaniel-but you can never be too careful in my opinion and  I ensure any ‘mess’ he makes is cleaned up but others simply do not.

Various attempts have been made over the years to curb irresponsible ownership.  In my local area we have a dog warden who is supposed to monitor lone dogs and those allowing their dogs to create a mess.  Nonetheless it still happens and I therefore have to question whether simply micro-chipping a dog will, in all reality, make any real difference in reducing the numbers of people attacked.

Unless a dangerous dog is detained at the scene and thereafter it’s owners are traced from the chip it may prove fruitless.  Those who keep and breed dangerous dogs are also, in my opinion, likely to flount the law and simply refuse to pay the fee for micro-chipping.  The heart of the issue in most cases is the attitude of the dog owner in ensuring it is raised properly and kept under control where possible.  Of course dogs can be volatile and even the most placid dog can turn if provoked but if dog owners and society as a whole adopted a proactive as opposed to reactive approach matters could improve.

Whilst it is encouraging to see this area of the law back on the agenda it simply does not go far enough.  This step coupled with compulsory insurance and an overhaul of the law to place responsibility on the owner/person in control of the dog whether on private or public land, together with increased powers of enforcement and monitoring for local authorities may go someway to address the issue.  For too long now I feel the bark of the law has been worse than the bite.