Are you considering getting a new dog?
From the 6th of April 2016 all dogs in Great Britain must be microchipped and registered on an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old. This is because on that date the 2014 Regulations that make this obligatory will come into force. These changes have not been widely publicised, so it seems likely that a lot of dog owners will find themselves breaching the new rules without meaning to.
There are a number of approved databases, which all charge different fees and offer additional extra services.
Any dog not currently microchipped must be so by the 6th of April, and must also be registered on an approved database. If a dog is certified by a vet as unfit to be microchipped for health reasons then it will be exempt.
Microchipping will not be proof of ownership, but you might well be presumed to be the Keeper if your dog commits an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act. This will not be conclusive though. For example, if the dog was in somebody else’s care when out of control, they might be considered the Keeper for the purposes of any offence.
The Regulations will be enforced by both local authorities and police forces. If they believe that a dog is not microchipped they can serve the owner with a notice requiring them to comply within 21 days.
A failure to comply with that notice can lead to a fine of up to £500, and also potentially court costs.
A more worrying consideration is the duty to keep the owners’ details up to date. For example, a change of address or telephone number must be updated on the registered database and, if they are not, then the owner could be served with a notice and subsequently fined up to £500 if they failed to comply with it.
But it is not inevitable that someone who fails to comply will face a fine. As ever with new legislation, there seem to be a lot of unforeseen scenarios. A change of ownership in which the new owner declines to register the dog, or the break up of a relationship could both bring difficulties with the registration – especially if ownership was disputed. There are defences that could be argued in these scenarios and others.
If you are served with a notice, and unsure whether you should comply with it. Or if you are threatened with court proceedings please get in touch to discuss potential defences.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0121 201 3765.