The Pet Care Trust, the leading pet care education charity, also welcomed the new consultation on dangerous dogs as being long overdue (see last week’s blog on "Reform of UK Dangerous Dogs Legislation”). However, it is concerned that the proposals for compulsory microchipping and insurance will create unnecessary burdens on the vast majority of pet owners who do behave responsibly.
"There are obviously merits in insuring and microchipping your dog, but making this compulsory would have the effect of penalizing responsible pet owners--and potentially criminalizing those who are financially vulnerable,” said Janet Nunn, chief executive of the Pet Care Trust. "The costs involved could be devastating for those in low-income households, meaning that some would have to consider giving their pets up or having them put to sleep.
"Why should the behavior of a small, irresponsible minority mean that an older person living alone with just their harmless pet for companionship has to foot a bill for microchipping and insurance--or risk losing their pet?” Nunn continued. "Many dog owners will comply with the proposed legislation whilst the irresponsible few will not and will thus avoid the costs involved. There has to be a better way of tackling the problem.
"Whilst the Trust supports microchipping and believes it is the best way of identifying a dog, we do not believe that it should be made mandatory for all,” she said. "The present legal requirement for dogs in public to wear a collar and tag showing the owner’s name and address is perfectly serviceable for the vast majority of dogs and their owners.
"Microchipping is desirable but it would be disproportionate to criminalize those who cannot afford to comply. We also fail to see the necessity for annual checks on microchipped dogs, which would make this even more costly for the pet owner,” Nunn added.
"As for pet insurance, most responsible owners insure, but again, we shouldn’t criminalize those who choose not to. Every dog owner has a duty of care to their animal and a responsibility to society, but it would be wrong to allow a few bad elements to hinder the benefits that 8 million dog owners in the UK enjoy,” she said.
"Dogs are good for your health: research shows dog owners (especially pensioners) make fewer visits to the doctor, experience lower levels of stress and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. There is also evidence to suggest that young people particularly benefit physically, emotionally and socially from living with dogs and learning about responsible pet ownership. These benefits to society (and our National Health Service) should not be overlooked,” Nunn concluded.
NOTE: The consultation runs until June1, 2010, and can be found online. Next week, I’ll talk about what dog owners and other groups think about dangerous dog legislation reform.
Industry Professional Site: Comments from non-industry professionals will be removed.