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All dogs in England must be microchipped by 2016, cats left exempt

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dog being fitted with microchip (shutterstock)
dog being fitted with microchip (shutterstock)

From April 2016, all dogs in England will be required to be microchipped for identification purposes. Owners that neglect to fit their dog with one of the chips could be fined up to £500 (roughly $780). "Chipping" pets is commonplace in the UK — most veterinarians recommend the procedure for both cats and dogs — and England's move echoes that of Northern Ireland last year. The RFID chip, roughly the size of a grain of rice, is inserted between the shoulder blades with a large syringe, and usually contains a 15-digit code comprised of a 3-digit country identifier and a 12-digit serial number unique to the animal. This information is then stored in a centralized database that also allows owners to include their contact information and address. Whenever a lost animal is found it's scanned in an attempt to reunite it with its owner. The law won't apply to cats just yet; the rationale being that they're less likely to stray far from home as they're more territorial animals than dogs.

The chips help reunite lost animals with their owners, and play a part in disease control

The law change won't affect canine visitors to England, as any animal entering the UK must already be chipped — and have proof of extensive vaccinations — or will be refused entry. The UK's strict immigration laws concerning animal identification and vaccination are largely to do with rabies; the disease is zoonotic, meaning it can be passed between animals and humans, and was eradicated from the country in the early 20th century. It remains prevalent in continental Europe, North America, and many other parts of the world, and the UK's participation in the "pet passport" scheme helps prevent it from returning to British shores.