We had a much-loved family cat a while ago which very sadly got run over by a speeding car. Therefore, please be assured that I know how much anguish is felt by a family when a cat is lost.
Microchipping for dogs became compulsory for animals over eight weeks of age in Great Britain in 2016. Statistics show that 92 per cent of dogs are now microchipped. As a result, displaced dogs have been reunited with their owners much quicker, reducing the time they spend in rehoming kennels and reducing owner and animal distress.
It is hugely important that cats are also microchipped, as this is often the only hope owners have of seeing a lost cat returned safely to their home. While 74 per cent of cats are already microchipped, I welcome that the Government has introduced plans to require all cat owners to ensure that their pet is microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age, which is a key part of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.
I appreciate the concerns that many have about the costs of compulsory microchipping. I know that Cats Protection acknowledged the potential cost to owners of microchipping their cat and urged anyone considering getting a cat or having a litter of kittens to take these costs into account along with all the other requirements of responsible cat ownership.
I know that some respondents to the Government’s consultation also felt that microchipping costs would be negligible compared to the overall costs of cat ownership. Recent data suggests that the cost of microchipping an animal is £17 on average. I am aware that some organisations offer free microchipping of dogs.
I am aware of a petition calling on the Government to review the euthanasia of animals in the UK and introduce a centralised reporting system to retain information such as descriptions and microchip numbers. I know that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons considers euthanasia to be the “painless killing to relieve suffering”. It is recommended that all veterinary practice staff involved in euthanasia are fully trained and a planned, rehearsed and coordinated approach is taken. No veterinary surgeon is obliged to kill a healthy animal unless they are required to do so under statutory powers as part of conditions of their employment.
Regarding Tuk's Law, I welcomed the Government’s steps to provide greater assurance that the microchip database information is checked whenever a healthy dog is presented for euthanasia.
I am aware that when a petition to Parliament receives 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond to the petition. I will continue to monitor this issue closely to see if the petition reaches 10,000 signatures and the Government responds.
I understand that it is the Government's intention to introduce a new, single set of microchipping regulations by the end of the year, which will incorporate changes to the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations and add the new requirement for compulsory microchipping of cats.
Finally, I would encourage all cat owners to make the sensible choice to microchip their cats.