I've just read a news article which states that legislation is being passed so that it will be compulsory for all dogs in the UK to be microchipped, and that it will be mandatory for all dog owners to pay a 'third party' kind of insurance so that victims of dog attacks can be compensated. The online BBC article (FWIW, this isn't the first article I read on the subject) states, specifically, that "Ministers say the consultation responds to concerns about the use of animals to intimidate or threaten people."
How is this going to make any difference to the kinds of people that keep dogs as 'weapons'? I can just see them queueing up to get their dogs insured and microchipped – right next to the stand where they can hand in their illegal guns and knives.
How is this going to be enforced? They can't even make sure that all cars on the roads are insured, and I'm damn sure that they're not going to hang a registration plate off of my dogs' butts. Also, cars don't breed.
Is it the responsibility of the bitch's owner to get the puppies chipped before they are sold? Or the responsibility of the new owner? At a minimum of £10 per dog, let's say 8 pups in a litter, might we not just see a lot more drowned puppies?
Speaking of – well, disposal. Unwanted dogs are often dumped or abandoned. But at least they are left alive. Quite a lot are at least left, anonymously, at rescue centres. Sad, but better than healthy dogs being killed, legally or otherwise. Under these new rules, the owner of a dumped dog could be traced – will they be forced to take the dog back? Or to pay for its rehoming? If they can't afford to keep the dog, will it live? Or will they attempt to remove the chip before dumping the dog? Racing greyhounds have ear tattoos, so they can be permanently traced. Unscrupulous owners who want to dispose of their dogs' corpses simply cut their ears off. (For heaven's sake, don't Google that unless you want a really upsetting day. It only gets worse). Will people cut out subcutaneous microchips, too?
The whole thing just seems crazy. I can imagine random spot-checks from the police, wielding hand-held scanners ("Excuse me, sir, can I just scan your dog?"). Except microchips can move; I know one dog whose chip has migrated from between the shoulderblades (where it is implanted) to the skin under its throat, just by 'floating' between the tissue layers. Are all police going to be trained in dog-scanning? I don't want to have to go down the station on a Tuesday morning because I was walking the dogs and the local copper couldn't find a chip – I need to get to work!
What will happen to the insurance premium for a dog who was 'accused' of an attack? What will happen to a dog who is suddenly a lot more expensive? Should we really be able to demand that sort of compensation because we weren't watching the kid and it was taunting an elderly, arthritic terrier who had finally had enough? (One of my brothers got bitten in those circumstances. Not badly, and no-one held any bad feelings, but if personalities had been otherwise, there could have been a very different outcome).
And whereas I agree that posties, milkmen and others who have to work on private property should be safe to carry out their business, I can't *wait* for the first burglar to demand destruction of a dog under the new 'on private property' section of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
I am all in favour of microchips. And insurance. Both my dogs are chipped and insured, for their protection and my peace of mind. If they're ever lost, a chip greatly increases the chances they'll find their way back to me. But I chose to do it. It is my interpretation of what is good, and right, and it is all, ultimately, for the good of the dogs.
Making it illegal not to chip your dog will just add to the list of things that criminals do (or don't do). Forcing someone to chip their dog will not increase its welfare. I can't imagine anyone chipping a fight dog, can you?
The cruel, the vicious, the scofflaws will do what they always do, and keep it underground.
Ultimately, there is no legislation on this planet that can implant a social conscience into an individual. Attempting to do so only makes life harder for those who follow the rules anyway.