DEFRA Post Implementation Review Of The Microchipping Of Dogs

This post is targeted towards those people who work a lot with microchip databases. You’ll find this particularly interesting if you’re:

  • From a veterinary clinic
  • From an Animal Rescue
  • From a local council (a team member who deals in animal welfare)
  • An animal breeder

A summary of the proposals for improvement within pet microchipping

The Defra document contains a summary of the proposals for improvement to the legislation affecting the microchipping of Dogs. I’ve laid this article out to add a summary of the recommendations along with some of my thoughts on the proposals.

 

Proposal 1:

A public information campaign is needed, ensuring dog owners are aware of their legal responsibility to keep their contact information up to date. This should also inform dog owners that it is their legal responsibility to register on a compliant database. 

My thoughts:

I think this is a brilliant idea, this year we made a decision to run a “checkyourchip” month in September. We ran an awareness campaign with charities and rescues which resulted in several hundred pets being registered for the first time. (We allowed registration for free.)

A campaign involving the government and the microchip databases could result in thousands of unregistered pet’s getting registered.

 

Proposal 2:

Additional details that must be recorded on databases should be included in the 2015 Regulations, in order to maximise the potential benefits of compulsory dog microchipping. Compulsory details to be recorded could include: –

  • Breeders’ details to remain alongside the current keeper to improve traceability of breeders;
  • Implanter details, so that implanters can be identified in case of animal welfare impact;
  • Rescue back-up details, in case the dog is relinquished;
  • A statutory ‘missing’ and/or ’stolen’ field.

My thoughts:

I’ll break this into 3 parts based on the added details. 

  1. Breeders details – We agree with this and believe the UK should align the laws across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 
  2. Implanter details – I don’t see a huge value add here and may add an administrative burden to implanters such as veterinary clinics.
  3. Rescue back up details – We already do this with a range of animal rescues with excellent results.
  4. Statutory missing / Stolen field – We have this and don’t understand why another database wouldn’t.

 

Proposal 3:

A single national database should be created, similar to the equine microchipping database system or a single point of entry with single log-on point and automatic routing of users to the specific database that holds the registration. 

My thoughts:

I’m a bit torn on this one. A single national database would need to be managed in a very careful fashion. I also believe it would raise the price for pet owners unless funded by Defra.  This would also result in job loses and a reduction in features for all users.

A single point of entry would help a lot, but I’d be extremely nervous about opening our user data to a third party company. This would also have to be funded by Defra and free at the point of use for authorised users searching for pet owner details. Any charge would place a barrier on the many organisations that help in the reunification process.

 

Proposal 4:

Improved functioning of the API (Application Programming Interface) look-up tool would ensure effective communication and information exchange between databases and ensure that records are correctly identified to named databases.

My thoughts:

I’m a huge supporter of this. We  have constant issues with other microchip databases here. Many don’t have the technology expertise in house to fix issues quickly when they occur. 

I’ve found there is a lot of misconceptions about how the API works. You can read THIS article to find out a bit more about that. An updated API along with the auditing mentioned below would help solve a lot of the problems.

 

Proposal 5:

A regular audit should be undertaken by an independent body to ensure that database companies are meeting the conditions set out in the 2015 Regulations.

My thoughts:

I am a huge supporter of this. I am very open with my opinion that many of the current databases that operate as a Defra compliant fail to live up to the regulations. Some of the things I experience is:

  • Not operating a 24/7 phone line.
  • Not having a function for authorised users to look up pet owner details.
  • Poor security.
  • Although not part of the regulations the service level from some databases to their customers is nothing short of appalling.

 

Proposal 6:

Regular reminders should be issued by database companies to prompt keepers to update their details.

My thoughts:

We do this, it should be a requirement. 

 

Proposal 7:

Duplicate registrations should not be allowed, so companies should not accept registrations if a microchip is already registered elsewhere.

My thoughts:

I agree with this but with a cavaet. 

A consistent and automated database transfer process should exist. We see a huge number of issues here. For example from a recent case; a pet owner doesn’t want to keep their pet’s details on a database with bad reviews. They ask to register with us and reach out to the other database to remove their registration. They don’t hear back for 2 weeks. After several email chases the user gets asked for £20 to release the microchip.  

This in my opinion could raise the cost to pet owners, reduce the service levels delivered to them while leaving pets unprotected due to the high cost.

Conclusion

In my conclusion I think the report lays out a lot of very relevant improvements. Many led by technology.

I am confident with MyPet being a technology company we will adapt quickly to the positive changes. I believe those databases with an in house technology team (like us) will adapt much quicker. I am hopeful any auditing process will improve or remove those databases that don’t follow the regulations.

I worry that the cost to pet owners could increase as many databases may experience an increase in cost. 

Overall I do believe all of the recommendations will help animal welfare and help in animal reunification.

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