The SHG response

to the Welsh Government's consultation on

“Compulsory Micro-chipping of Dogs”.


The Self Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA (The SHG) provides support and legal advice to people who are being investigated or prosecuted for Animal Welfare related offences, usually by the RSPCA. People also consult us about other aspects of animal legislation, including issues relating to dogs and the actions of local authorities.

This puts us in a unique position in terms of hearing how existing legislation affects individual dog owners and breeders and of course, those who work with dogs. Because we guarantee confidentiality people feel safe to share their fears with us, including their concerns over the future of dog keeping in both Wales and the UK and the potential effect of proposed legislation and regulations.

We note that the aims of these proposals are to improve animal welfare, to encourage owners to take greater responsibility for their dogs' welfare and behaviour, including fouling, and to provide traceability for disease control purposes. The SHG believes that the inevitable result of the implementation of these proposals will be just the opposite and will lead to demands for yet more restrictive legislation.

It is difficult to see how micro-chipping can in any way influence or bring about those aims.

Nothing in the consultation documents serves to explain the Welsh Government's thinking. It is stated that there are large numbers of dogs and dog owners, and that the Welsh Government has held discussions and workshops with organisations who The SHG believes would be expected to have an interest in the imposition of compulsory micro-chipping: database holders, welfare organisations and enforcement officers. Indeed, it would be surprising if these vested interests had not come out in favour of these proposals.

The people who will have to put up with these intrusions into their privacy and family life have not yet been asked. Why has this consultation not landed in the letter box of every inhabitant of Wales? This happened over consultations on changes to the health service, so why not over this?

The result is that we believe the vast majority of dog owners have no idea of what is being proposed. No new legislation or restrictions of any sort should be imposed without giving every single dog owner or potential dog owner the chance to be consulted. Many dog owners do not have access to the internet or buy daily newspapers. A mass mailing is the only way to guarantee reaching all of those potentially affected.

It will be interesting to see what proportion of actual dog owners respond as opposed to special interest groups who have their own reasons for wanting all animals (not just dogs) to be micro-chipped, and those who have sent in submissions specially prepared by organisations such as the RSPCA. See
https://e-activist.com/ea action/action?ea.client.id=143&ea.campaign.id=14959

It should be carefully noted that a new peer reviewed paper shows that there is no real evidence for the seeming growth of abuse of dogs and their involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour..

The Welsh government should think very carefully before instituting restrictive and invasive regulations at the behest mainly of the RSPCA when the statistical evidence they provide is condemned as “little other than anecdotal testimony in the absence of sustained criminological research”


Q1 Do you believe that all dogs in Wales should have to be micro-chipped? Why?
The SHG is opposed to compulsory micro-chipping. The decision to micro-chip should remain with the individual dog owner in Wales.

The UK government has recently committed to closing down the ID card database. Dog microchipping is just another register of people. It does nothing to prevent dog theft or to help find dogs that are lost. Indeed, reading reports of missing dogs there seem to be as many lost and stolen that are micro-chipped as those that are not. There is no evidence that this leads to an increased percentage of dogs that are micro-chipped being found and returned to their owners when either lost or stolen. See

“Pet owner hits out as dog re-homed”.

    The SHG opposes compulsory micro-chipping on the grounds that it is dog registration and licensing under another name, that it creates a database registry of people and their movements, thus representing great intrusion into people's privacy, and that it punishes responsible dog owners for the actions of a minority.

We know that any problems are caused by a minority because Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths said:

“We believe the majority of dog owners in Wales are responsible and take good care of their animals.”

    Clearly the Welsh Government must consider the proportionality of forcing uncalled for restrictions on the peaceful enjoyment by people of their property (dogs) when it is clear from the proposals that the majority of people have chosen not to take up offers of free or cheap micro-chipping.

We have been unable to find any figures to show the actual voluntary uptake of micro-chipping among Welsh or UK dog owners. Nor have we found any figures for compliance with compulsory microchipping in Northern Ireland although we accept that this is new legislation. It should be remembered that when the dog licence was abandoned it had an uptake of only 50%. A large number of people who would need to be forced to comply.

There are serious health issues with microchips. They may move within the dog’s body. There are certainly instances where chips that have been inserted for pet passports have not been found resulting in dogs facing long stays in quarantine. Microchips appear to be associated with the appearance of tumours at the site of the chip.

No responsible pet owner is going to want to risk the health of their animal for a dubious benefit. Indeed, the procedure might well be in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA), although we note that the Act makes government sponsored cruelty exempt.



    This does not sit easily with the claim that these proposals will serve to improve animal welfare. Worse, by creating compulsory micro-chipping the Welsh Government will provide micro-chippers with the protective cover of S. 4(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This essentially states that state sanctioned cruelty is exempt from prosecution – and arguably from any financial claims for compensation for injury and suffering caused to dogs and the inevitable associated veterinary fees.

Tattooing appears to be a far less dangerous procedure and at least is visible on the dog, unlike microchipping which needs specialist equipment. There is already a dog tattoo register and it should be noted that the Dangerous Dogs Act insists on a tattoo as well as a micro-chip. http://www.dog-register.co.uk/ .

It is impossible to see how micro-chipping could reduce dog fouling.

Q2. If compulsory micro-chipping was introduced in Wales, should the legislation require:
• only puppies born after the legislation is made be micro-chipped?
• all dogs be micro-chipped within 1 year of the legislation being made?
• micro-chipping only be required for new puppies and upon change of ownership?
• micro-chipping be required for new puppies and all dogs on change of ownership and the remainder micro-chipped within an agreed time scale, for example five years?
• there be a phased approach, by micro-chipping puppies at time of sale?
Please comment.
    Compulsory micro-chipping should not be introduced in Wales.

It would be abhorrent to put people who have chosen not to micro-chip for health or privacy concerns in the position of having to decide whether to break the law or put their dog at what they believe to be serious risk of micro-chip induced health problems and to give up their own right to privacy.

If it is to be imposed then clearly it should only be imposed on those who choose to buy puppies or dogs in future and who are prepared to take the known risks. It should not be imposed on dog owners retrospectively.

Only those people who buy puppies or dogs who will continue to live in Wales should be affected by this legislation. There should be an exemption for people wishing to buy a puppy who live in other parts of the UK, otherwise it will serve to disadvantage Welsh dog breeders when selling to other parts of the EU and UK.

Q3. When a micro chipped animal changes ownership, the registration details on the database would need to be updated. With whom should this responsibility lie: the seller, the buyer, or both?
    This is bad legislation. What happens if the seller and/or buyer are temporarily in England? Or only staying temporarily in Wales? What happens if the previous owner is dead or in hospital?

What if the buyer or the seller provide false addresses? How will private individuals ensure that the people they are dealing with are genuine? Is the next step the ending of all private transfers of dogs? Or enforced provision of photo ID?

How is the legislation to be enforced?

Q4. We propose to require microchip registration details to be stored on approved commercia databases
– do you agree?
    The SHG is opposed to such databases. As already stated, they effectively create another database of people at a time when the UK government has committed to closing down the ID card database. This will move Wales in the opposite direction to the rest of the country in terms of personal liberty.

Commercial databases may not be a secure as government run and funded databases. How are people whose details are hacked, lost or whose private data is otherwise wrongly disclosed to be compensated? How much will the Welsh Government put by in a fund to deal with potential claims?

Q5. The compulsory micro-chipping of dogs would require owners to pay to microchip their pet. What are your thoughts on this issue?
    We are in the middle of a recession. It is unlikely that anyone would disagree that many people are struggling financially and that there are job losses. Any extra expenditure is likely to be beyond the means of many dog owners.

Proposing to put further costs on people who are doing nothing wrong in a recession is ridiculous. It penalises the poor for being poor and pushes them further out of the normal activities that everyone else takes for granted. Only those who are law abiding would comply. The people who are likely to have out of control dogs would not.

Worse, blanket sanctions such as this proposal wastes resources by targeting friendly family dogs that are well cared for leaving few resources available to deal with the real problems.

The SHG believes that it is wrong to impose such costs on the responsible majority of dog owners.

Even if charities offer to provide free or cut price micro-chipping, there is no guarantee that they will be financially able to meet such commitments in future.

As an example, The SHG is receiving an increasing number of calls on the help line from people who had asked the RSPCA for help with veterinary fees only to be told that they could either hand their animal over to be treated and re-homed or euthanised, or they would be prosecuted. Vets are refusing to start treatment without money being paid up front. How would people in this situation pay the extra cost of micro-chipping?

Q6. We have set out what we think are the benefits to microchipping your animal. We would like to know your views on compulsory microchipping.
    A microchip will not prevent a dog biting. It will not change the behaviour of the dog or of the owner. If a dog bites, the presence of a micro-chip will not enable the person bitten or witnesses to see who the dog belongs to.

If a dog is found straying a micro-chip will not enable the person who finds the dog out of hours or on a bank holiday to contact the dog's owner. The specialist equipment will be locked in closed vets, council offices etc. An ear tattoo would be easy to read over the phone to the dog tattoo register. A collar with a tag and phone number or address is equally easy.

If someone steals a dog or wishes to dump it they will be tempted to remove micro-chip evidence. This is far more invasive than merely removing a collar or cutting off an ear, however reprehensible those actions may be. This is far worse than the removal of an ear tattoo. For an example of the severeinjuries this can cause see:

“Family distraught after “healthy” cat is put down”.

“The laceration is likely to have come from someone trying to dig out the cat's microchip so that they
could claim her as their own.”


    It is claimed that micro-chipping will reduce the numbers of strays not claimed from council pounds.

The real reason many strays are not claimed is the high fee required to reclaim the animal. A fee that rises exponentially with time. People simply do not have the money.

Many family pets are lost, not because their owners did not wish to reclaim them, but because they were living hand to mouth in a recession and the council pound fees priced them out of reclaiming their family pet. How will the added expense of micro-chips help?

Q7. At present, the owner of the animal, the microchip implanter and some animal welfare organisations are able to access current records, but only enforcement authorities are able to see previous records. Do you think this should remain the same? If not, please explain.
    Only the owner of the animal and the microchip implanter should be able to see the records, past or present.

People may leave their previous homes for all sorts of reasons, including abusive ex-spouses or neighbours.

It should be the duty of the microchip implanter to contact the owner of the animal to inform them that their dog has been found if it is straying.

If there is to be compulsory micro-chipping it should be a criminal offence to share this information with anyone else. Indeed, the Welsh Government should consider making it a criminal offence while micro-chipping is still voluntary in order to protect vulnerable people and their private data.

Anyone coming into such protected information should be under a duty to report how they came about the information to both the database company and the owner, and to hand all records over to them. Anyone found to breach these requirements should face a £20,000 fine and 51 weeks in prison for each offence.

If it is believed that the law has been broken only the police or other statutorily empowered enforcement authorities should be able to access the details on the register.

No animal welfare organisations should be able to access this information.

No private prosecutors should be able to access it.

Q8. Should there be any exemptions from compulsory micro-chipping?

    The SHG does not believe that compulsory micro-chipping should be introduced. If it is then the Welsh Government should pay for any micro-chip induced illnesses or other costs caused by the microchipping.

There should be exemptions for those who do not live in Wales or who plan to move out of Wales shortly.

There should be exemptions for those on means tested benefits.

There should be exemptions for those who are in financial difficulties.

There should be exemptions for those who have medical problems.

There should be exemptions for those who are suffering or have suffered harassment or abuse and who wish to keep their whereabouts confidential.

Q9. We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them:
Please enter here:

    Nothing has been said about how this is to be enforced. The database must most certainly be government run and enforced. It must not be put in the hands of the RSPCA or be accessible by them.
Dog owners would be terrified and reluctant to comply.

Are we to see a new range of enforcers wandering the streets stopping dog owners so that they can scan their pets?

Are we to see vets reporting their clients?

Neighbours encouraged to report each other?

Who is to fund this bureaucratic nightmare in which dog owners will be tracked and required to report their movements? Who is going to be responsible for enforcing the database and punishing those who fail to record their movements?

What will happen to those dogs who have a good home but whose owners either cannot afford to micro-chip them or who oppose micro-chipping on health, privacy or even religious grounds?

The RSPCA will not accept dogs unless they are “RSPCA generated”. Other re-homing organisations are full and refusing animals.

Are we to start killing the dogs of the poor? The dogs of religious objectors? Or the dogs of those who are trying to protect their animals from what they see as a danger to their health and welfare?

What of those owners who are driven to abandon their dogs if there are no rescue places available before they are forced to micro-chip for fear of prosecution? How will the authorities cope with those dogs that are turfed out of formerly good homes?

Are we to see vets, dog groomers, trainers or walkers required to report their clients? How will it help encourage responsible dog ownership or dog welfare if people who genuinely believe that their dog will be harmed by micro-chipping are faced with the need to seek professional help of this sort outside of Wales or avoid it altogether?


Responses to consultations may be made public – on the internet or in a report. If you would prefer your response to be kept confidential.

    We have no objections to our response being made public.

    Anne Kasica & Ernest Vine
Dan-y-Graig, Cwmpengraig, Velindre, Llandyssul, Carmarthenshire. SA44 5HT
Tel: 0844 700 6690. e-mail: shg@the-shg.org http://the-shg.org