Microchipping - Are You Ready?

The microchip legislation kicks in on April 6th and as this deadline approaches I find myself wondering whether I really understand the vet’s responsibilities towards this legislation. Should we be checking the microchip of every dog as they come through the door? What happens if we don’t find a microchip? Is it then our responsibility to report these owners to some kind of authority or are we supposed to force microchipping upon our client’s beloved pet?

I’m very glad to say that after watching the BVA’s pre Virtual Congress webinar discussing the topic of microchipping, vets are in no way responsible for policing this legislation. Dr Peter Scott FRCVS led this webinar and started by letting us know exactly what is required by this new set of regulations (which incidentally can have subtle variations between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland). From April 6th 2016 it is compulsory for any dog aged eight weeks and over to be microchipped. It is also compulsory that no dog be sold or rehomed without being microchipped, and that the breeder should always be recorded as the first keeper. Owners are also required to notify the database of any changes to their contact details or changes in keepership.

If a dog over eight weeks of age is found not to have a microchip, an authorised person will serve a notice stating that the dog in question needs to be microchipped within 21 days. A vet is not classed as an authorised person, and as vets have a confidential relationship with their client, they are not required to report a non-complying owner to the authorities. The vet’s main responsibility lies in advising clients about the microchipping legislation and that owners are obliged to have their dogs microchipped. It would be sensible to check a patient’s microchip in case of any adverse events such as malfunction or migration of the chip, but if a chip is not present or if a client refuses to have their pet’s microchip checked it is important to remember that ultimately it is the client’s responsibility to comply with this new legislation, and not the vets.

This webinar has given the clarity required to aid me in identifying the vet’s responsibility towards enforcing this legislation. Although I believe this new set of regulations moves towards more responsible dog ownership, I was pleased to see there should be no compromise to the all-important vet – client relationship.

Microchipping - Are You Ready?

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