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6 February 2013
The RSPCA today welcomed the Government’s long-awaited announcement to make microchipping compulsory for all dogs as a step in the right direction – but warned preventative measures are needed to improve dog welfare.
The country’s biggest animal charity believes compulsory microchipping will help make it easier to identify the owners of those dogs that have strayed or are being mistreated, neglected abandoned or lost.
However, the Society believes the Government in Westminster has not gone far enough.
David Bowles, head of public affairs, said: “Compulsory microchipping and extending the law to cover private property as well as public spaces is a welcome move.
“However, on their own we don’t believe they will reduce the number of stray dogs, make owners act more responsibly to their dogs or ensure fewer dogs bite people or other animals. The Home Office proposals on anti-social behaviour do not provide sufficiently early intervention and could label some dog owners as anti-social when their failing may only be a lack of understanding.
“The number of warnings the RSPCA issued to dog owners due to poor welfare last year was up by 12% on 2011, while the number of dog bites that required hospitalisation has gone up by 26% in the past four years. If the Government is serious about tackling these very real problems then, we don’t see how today’s proposals will help reduce either of these figures.
“We have always said that prevention is better than the cure. This was Defra’s opportunity to finally tackle the big issues, but instead we believe they have merely tinkered with the existing legislation rather than make the comprehensive reform that dog law enforcers were calling for.”
The RSPCA believes that preventative measures, such as dog control notices, are required as well as introduction of dog registration to improve dog owners’ accountability, deter casual acquirers of dogs and fund owner education services. Early intervention with owners prevents suffering to animals, as well as protect public safety where owners fail to control their dogs.
“The RSPCA is also concerned that too many dogs are still spending too much time in kennels after being removed by enforcement agencies such as the police while their fate is being decided through the courts. These measures do little to tackle this,” added David.
Moves by the Government to give police forces discretion when dealing with seized dogs have also been cautiously welcomed.
David said: “Giving more discretion to enforcers and the courts on the need to seize some dogs would not only be far better for the dogs themselves, but also reduce the strain on the public purse.”