Microchips have saved the lives of over 8,000 lost dogs over the past year – 1,000 more than the previous year – according to the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. The devices, implanted under the skin, allow the dogs to be reunited with their owners. The finding was revealed in the annual Stray Dog Survey carried out for Dogs Trust.
The report found that 111,986 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up by local authorities across the UK in the 12 months to September. While that represents a 6% decrease on the previous year the figure still equates to a staggering 307 stray dogs found each day. Despite considerable headway being made by local authorities and animal welfare organisations to promote responsible dog ownership through microchipping, education and neutering, the survey also recorded 9,000 dogs being destroyed, 8% of the total. Those reunited with their owners accounted for 48% of the stray population, with the remaining dogs transferred to welfare organisations for rehoming (25%) or rehomed through local authorities (9%).
The Government has announced plans for the compulsory microchipping of all dogs by April 2013 in a bid to promote more responsible dog ownership. Owners who fail to comply will face a £500 fine.
Dogs Trust CEO Clarissa Baldwin OBE said: “While it is encouraging to see that the number of stray dogs has fallen, with nearly 112,000 dogs still being collected by local authorities and nearly 9,000 of these put to sleep there is clearly still a problem. We work very closely with local authorities who should be commended on their efforts to encourage responsible dog ownership, which is reflected in the reduction in strays. They do not want to put dogs to sleep but they are struggling to cope with such huge numbers of dogs in a difficult economic climate. Simple steps such as microchipping can help prevent accidental strays. The fact that more dogs are being reunited with their owners because of microchips is a huge step forward.
“We are delighted with the Government’s commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping by 2016; however we hope this alarming number of stray dogs will remind dog owners to ensure that their dog is microchipped and that their contact details are kept up to date to improve the chances of their dogs being returned to them should they stray.”
The publication of the survey came just days before a speech at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting, jointly hosted by Dogs Trust, in which shadow environment minister Mary Creagh predicted a “mad rush” to microchip dogs in the weeks before the 2016 deadline.