Not updating a dog's microchip could lead to a £500 fine for owners, warns animal charities including the RSPCA and PDSA
Outdated microchips are one of the most 'chronically overlooked' areas of dog ownership and a mistake that could land owners with a hefty fine, claim animal charities.
A staggering 69 per cent of dogs reportedly brought into vets for treatment or into animal shelters as suspected strays are found to have incorrect or missing details attached to their microchip, but it could prove a costly mistake for those they belong to.
By law all dogs, over eight weeks old, must have a microchip registered with a valid database or owners risk a £500 fine and prosecution.
But owners who fail to update their contact details months and years later also face financial punishment alongside the risk that their treasured family pooch is classified as a stray – which happens 'in the majority of cases' says the PDSA when animals are brought in with incorrect or missing details.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association as estimated 3.2 million pets were purchased in the UK since March 2020 and while new owners may be familiar with the basics including food, training, toys and illnesses the topic of microchipping and their ongoing maintenance can risk being overlooked.
The cost of microchipping a dog is around £15 to £20 through a local vet but some organisations including animal charities and shelters often also run sessions for free.
While vets can give your dog its initial microchip your registered surgery will not automatically update your chip details for you if you notify them of a change of address or contact number – unless they also specifically offer this service.
Instead dog owners are solely responsible for updating their own contact details when they change with the database through which the dog's chip is registered.
In order to track down the database responsible for your pet's chip you must first know the animal's unique code, which can be listed on items including the chip certificate itself, veterinary records, a pet passport or animal insurance details.
Owners can then enter the code at website check-your-chip, which was set up in 2011 to help vets, rescue centres, animal wardens and owners identify which database holds the registration for a particular microchip number.
Once you have found the database responsible for keeping your details you can contact them directly to ensure they have the latest and most up-to-date contact information.
The RSPCA warns that owners who don't bother keeping their contact information up-to-date risk a £500 fine – the same punishment as those who don't bother to have their animals chipped in the first place.
Its website explains: "If your contact details change and you don't update your details on the database, then you could also receive a notice and may be liable to pay a fine of £500.
"A dog is only exempt from being microchipped if a vet certifies in writing that they cannot be microchipped for health reasons."
Natalie Wells from charitable organisation Wood Green The Animals Charity, said re-uniting dogs and owners without valid contact details is almost impossible for shelters, and if strays can't be reunited owners risk their much-wanted animal being given a new home.
She explained: "It remains extremely difficult to track down an owner if microchip details are out of date, as many people are unaware of what to do if their dog goes missing.
"In these cases, owners have to find the dog themselves rather than simply being notified that their dog has been found.”