From April 2016 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales are now legally required to have been chipped by the time they are eight weeks old or owners could face a fine of up to £500.

If local authorities come across a dog without a microchip, owners will initially have up to 21 days to comply with the law or be fined. The government says one million dogs – about one in eight of the estimated UK dog population – are not yet chipped.

When a dog is micro-chipped, a tiny chip about the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the loose skin on the back of its neck, giving it a unique 15-digit code. If the dog is then lost or gets stolen and is picked up by a council or a dog shelter, the microchip can be scanned and matched to contact details stored on a database.

The aim is to make it easier and quicker to return dogs to their owners and save Councils “vast sums” of taxpayers’ cash used to look after strays and pay for unplanned stays in kennels.  It should also help reduce the number of stray, lost, stolen and abandoned dogs.

The new law will not however replace current requirements for dogs to wear a collar and tag with their owner’s name and address, when in a public place.

The number of stray dogs in the UK has been in decline with 126,000 reported in 2011-12 reducing to an estimated 102,363 stray dogs being handled by local authorities in the year from April 2014.

Estimates from charities report that about half of last year’s strays were reunited with their owners with the rest being re-homed, passed onto welfare organisations or dog kennels, with around 5% unfortunately having to be put down for a number of reasons.

Some charities, local authorities and even some vets will microchip dogs without charging, but please speak to us here at Tadley Pets if you need advice on getting your dog chipped if you’ve not already done so.