The UK Government has introduced a wide-ranging Action Plan for Animal Welfare. For pet owners, this includes making microchips for cats a legal requirement. So, what does this mean for you?

It is estimated that around 2.6m cats in the UK don’t currently have a microchip. With thefts of cats and dogs increasing, along with prices, welfare groups have been lobbying for change. Now, it is set to be enacted into law. 

Of course, microchipping of dogs has been a legal requirement since 2016. Non-compliance can lead to a £500 fine, which goes some way to explaining why an estimated 95% of dogs were microchipped by 2017. It has become as normal as having vaccinations for most puppies. 

Should pet owners be concerned?

Microchipping is a safe way of identifying your pet. Unfortunately, if they run off or are stolen, they can’t tell anybody their name or where they live. So the microchip gives them that voice. Vets and rescue centres can scan the microchip, get your details, and reunite you with your pet – no matter how far they travel.

With around 75% of the UK’s cats already microchipped, most owners won’t need to do anything. But for those without, now might be a good time to discuss it with your vet. 

Learn more about microchipping, how it works and if it will hurt your pet in this guide by the PDSA

What else does the Action Plan for Animal Welfare cover?

For pets, we will see a change in import rules to close loopholes and reduce puppy smuggling. This is something we covered last year, with a guest post from Marc Abraham. It takes the existing Lucy’s Law, and will add extra protections. Whether these go far enough, we shall wait and see. 

The banning of e-shock collars is another positive step. Used in training, they give dogs a shock to remove undesired behaviours.  Animal welfare groups, and even the Kennel Club have petitioned to stop the sale and usage of ESCs. According to their data, 73% of the public also disapprove. So now, finally, action is going to be taken.

The UK Government has also set up a task force to deal with the increase in pet theft. Whether this will result in tougher sentences, as we saw earlier in the week for animal cruelty, or other legal action remains to be seen. But with the pandemic puppy boom, and rising prices of cats and dogs, it’s an area of concern for a growing number of pet owners. 

What about wild and farm animals?

There’s still a great deal to be done in this country, and around the world to protect animals. Here, Defra are exploring a range of changes, including;

Vetster option 01 (Blog)

You can read the full set of measures on the Government website.

A major part of these legislations is the acknowledgement of animals as sentient beings. In short, as they are capable of thoughts and feelings, animals should be protected under law. 

These laws may prove to be the tip of the iceberg. But for pet owners and animal lovers, they appear to be a major step in the right direction. 

Finally, if your cat hasn’t been microchipped, make sure you have a discussion with your vet. They can answer your questions, and the procedure itself is likely to cost between £20 and £30. Better still, the process is much the same as a normal vaccination.

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