The fines issued to pet owners by councils to those who have failed to microchip their dog as legally required vary nationwide, with some councils fining individuals five times as much as in other areas.
Ahead of the second anniversary of the compulsory microchipping law, Pets at Home submitted Freedom of Information requests to every city, county, district and borough council in the UK to see which areas were fining the most dog owners. While it found the number of dog owners being fined varied, what was most interesting was the disparity in fines around the country.
For instance, the 34 dog owners fined by the Isle of Wight Council were fined an average of £25 each. However, this cost is small when compared with the six Hull dog owners who were fined an average of £447 apiece and the £1,932.50 fine for a single dog owner in London’s Hounslow.
Pets at Home’s research found that 103 dog owners have been fined by 16 councils for failing to microchip their four-legged friend since it became compulsory in April 2016. Collectively, these individuals have been fined £18,802 which makes the national average fine £182.54 per dog owner.
The government introduced compulsory microchipping to make tracking down missing dogs easier and to make it simpler for local authorities to identify owners of dangerous dogs. Estimates suggest one in eight dog owners* hasn’t yet microchipped their four-legged friend, meaning hundreds of thousands of animal lovers are breaking the law, possibly accidentally, and as such face possible high legal costs.
Dr Maeve Moorcroft, head of pets at Pets at Home, said: “The results of our Freedom of Information requests are somewhat surprising; and what we found most of note was how much the fines charged by councils varied across the country.
“Microchipping is a simple and cheap procedure that doesn’t hurt a dog in any way and it’s vital that responsible pet owners obey this law. We’d urge dog owners to take steps to get their canine microchipped, firstly for the health and safety of their four-legged friend, and secondly to comply with the law and avoid potentially hefty fines.”
Of the 16 councils that had fined pet owners, the Isle of Wight Council had been most proactive, fining 34 dog owners. This was followed by Coventry City Council with 19 and Sheffield City Council with 12.
Coventry City Council has prosecuted all of those who have been fined, as has Sheffield, while the East Riding of Yorkshire has prosecuted seven individuals. In total, 75 dog owners in the UK have been prosecuted by their local council.
A full list of the councils which have issued fines and prosecutions, and the sum of the fines, can be found below:
At Pets at Home, when a chip is implanted, every pet is given a unique code number, which is then stored along with the owner’s contact details on registration database, Animal Tracker.
Each chip is roughly the size of a grain of rice, fits under the pet’s skin and contains information about its owner, making it easier for both to be reunited should they become separated for whatever reason.
Pets at Home offers microchipping at low costs. For more information on microchipping and to find your nearest store that offers this service, please visit: www.petsathome.com.