Paying for an annual licence to own a dog is to end on 1 April 2018 with a change in the law making it compulsory for owners to have their dog microchipped instead.
Microchipping is a one-off procedure that sees a small electronic chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted under a dog’s skin.
Microchipping does not hurt dogs. No anaesthetic is required and the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard vaccination.
The fitting of a microchip is recognised by the British Veterinary Association and animal welfare agencies, including the ManxSPCA, as the most effective and secure way of ensuring a pet can be identified.
Each microchip carries a unique code, which can be read by a scanner, giving the dog warden, veterinary practices and the ManxSPCA easy access to the information they need to reach a dog’s registered owner.
The current system of issuing annual licence tags, which are attached to a dog’s collar, is a costly manual process with the risk of a dog becoming separated from their tag.
The move will reduce costs for dog owners on the Island who will no longer need to pay up to £20 per dog, per year, for a licence.
Unlike the current licencing system there will be no exemptions for working dogs, meaning all dogs on the Island will have to be microchipped.
Microchipping must be carried out by a suitably qualified person, usually a vet, on all dogs aged eight weeks or older. Dog owners are required to keep their details up to date on the database such as changes to contact telephone numbers and addresses.
Any change in details for the database must be done within 21 days. A keeper who fails to update details may be liable of a fine of up to £500 whilst anyone who fraudulently or negligently enters inaccurate information may be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of up to £1,000.
Although the law changes on 1 April, dog owners are being given a six month lead-in period to ensure their dog is microchipped. It means there will be no enforcement under the Act until 1 October 2018. After this date, the owner of any dog which is found not to be microchipped is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of up to £500.
Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot MHK, said:
'Microchipping takes advantage of modern technology to replace a somewhat antiquated licensing system whilst making it easier and quicker reunite a dog with their owner.
'Abolishing an annual licence fee will help reduce the cost of owning a dog – an average saving of £200 over a dog’s lifetime.
'Dog licences have existed for a number of years and I recognise that compulsory microchipping is a significant change in approach. That is why we are delaying enforcement until the autumn, giving owners six-months within which to get their dogs microchipped.
The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture undertook lengthy and detailed consultation on the proposal to introduce compulsory microchipping and received majority support for the initiative.