The National Dog Warden Association is the latest organisation to speak out about the recent Government proposals for compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England. In a statement, the NDWA says:
Whilst NDWA welcomes the government announcement on proposed ways to deal with irresponsible dog ownership in its many forms, it is extremely disappointed that yet again the end result is another consultation process by DEFRA rather than decisive action.
NDWA has stated elsewhere that the government was wrong to intermingle ‘dangerous dog’s’ and stray dogs as a single issue, confusion on what a ‘dangerous dog’ is has clouded public perception and has helped to create a misleading image that microchipping will help reduce the number of dog attacks.
Further confusion has arisen in the belief that a microchip will identify a dog to an owner, ask a Local Authority Dog Warden (if there are any left at your local council) how many stray dogs that are microchipped have up to date details or perhaps the microchip has not been registered, a figure of around a 40% failure rate is not uncommon. There would need to be legislation that placed responsibility for a dog with the person or organisation that bred it, sold it or re-homed it, much in the same way that the DVLA places responsibility on the previous owner of a car if the log book has not been signed over to the new owner.
Microchipping as an aid to animal welfare and the swift reunification of dogs with owners is welcomed by NDWA but there are far too many unanswered questions that require addressing, a major one being, if it becomes mandatory that a dog is implanted with a microchip, who is responsible for enforcing non-compliance? Many Local Authorities have reduced the traditional Dog Warden Service that offered dog control through a combination of education and enforcement. If the dog control aspect of the person responsible for dealing with dogs at a council is a secondary one, when will there be time to carry out enforcement of a law that requires dogs to be implanted?
NDWA worked with partners from the RSPCA, ACPO, CIEH and LGA to produce simplified legislation that would enable the primary enforcement agencies, prohibited breed’s and dogs dangerously out of control (The Police), stray dogs and minor dog related issues (Local Authorities) the tools to protect public safety and promote responsible dog ownership.
The amount of money set aside by the government for Local Authorities, charities and local groups to promote responsible dog ownership £50,000 is frankly risible, if there are 326 Local Authorities in England that have a statutory duty to deal with stray dogs, this amounts to approximately £1,533 per council, how much printing will this buy? Would this money actually be ‘ring-fenced’ or would it go straight in to the general council fund?
NDWA President Susan Bell said:
‘Any consultation process needs to address the issue of inadequately funded Dog Warden Services, the whole ethos of the NDWA is the promotion of responsible dog ownership through a combination of education and enforcement. Without competent Dog Warden Services there will be no positive promotion of responsible dog ownership in England.’