Defra is consulting on plans that could see compulsory microchipping of cats introduced in England from 2021.
An eight-week consultation launched today (23 December) on proposals that would make it mandatory for pet owners to microchip their cats. Vets, owners and members of the public will be asked for their views, although an earlier call for evidence by Defra showed 99% support for chipping.
The BVA today urged the Government to consider a pragmatic implementation of any proposals, which could have implications for vets if they are required to police the new legislation.
Defra estimates a quarter of UK cats – 2.6 million – are not microchipped, making it harder for owners to reunite with lost or stolen pets.
Animal welfare minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said: “It is hugely important that cats and kittens are microchipped, as this is often the only hope owners have of seeing their lost cat returned safely to their home.
“These plans to make cat microchipping compulsory build on our actions to improve our already world-leading animal welfare standards, including taking steps to end live animal exports and ban the practice of keeping primates as pets.”
UK CVO Christine Middlemiss added: “As we have seen already with dogs, compulsory microchipping is crucial in helping reunite owners with their treasured pets if they are lost or stolen.”
The Government is also consulting on three separate mandatory scanning campaigns:
Responding to the consultation, the BVA said any legislation around microchipping must be clear in its aims and likely enforcement measures.
BVA senior-vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Although we strongly encourage all cat owners to microchip their pet, the delivery and enforcement around compulsory microchipping of cats is complex and would need adequate resource.
“Before making it compulsory, the Government needs to address the difficulties caused by multiple national databases and consider how feral cat populations would be managed.”
She added: “Campaigns to introduce compulsory microchip scanning deliver attractive headlines, but fail to recognise that the implementation is complex.
“Vets’ primary role must be in providing veterinary care for animals and they should not be put in the position of policing the law or untangling ownership disputes, which could result in people not seeking veterinary treatment.
“We know that the headline policies will be popular, but we urge the Government to work through the detail before committing to something that is at best unworkable and at worst detrimental to animal welfare.”
Consultation is open, with responses made online at GOV.UK.
Credit: Compulsory cat microchipping consultation launches
In-text: (Vet Times, 2020)
Vet Times. (2020). Compulsory cat microchipping consultation launches [online] Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/compulsory-cat-microchipping-consultation-launches/ [Accessed 24 Dec. 2020].
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