Right of Reply

The director general of the RSPCA responds to a recent leading article about microchipping pets
THE RSPCA has called for pets to be microchipped to trace strays and to assist the RSPCA, police and local authorities in taking action against those who now escape prosecution because ownership of an animal cannot be proven.

The RSPCA recognises that microchipping alone will not end animal cruelty, but your leader article was wrong to suggest that a compulsory identification scheme could not be enforced.

Microchipping all pets is both possible and beneficial, but it is the compulsory identification of dogs - still the most abused animal - which remains the RSPCA's priority. Around 500 stray dogs are destroyed every day in this country by local authorities or other organisations, because homes cannot be found. In response to this unacceptable situation we can either continue clearing up after those who fail to care for their pet, or we can attempt to do something to address the problem.

Governments in France, Australia and Poland have introduced successful dog registration schemes with demonstrable welfare benefits. Identification by microchip will also be compulsory for anyone wishing to travel abroad under the UK's proposed "pet passport" system. Some local authorities, likeBradford and Bristol, run proactive identification schemes which have successfully reduced the stray dog problem in their areas.

Until all dogs are identified, thousands of people will continue to lose their pets permanently and many cruel owners will continue to escape prosecution. As an organisation which most often deals with suffering animals, the RSPCA believes that only a compulsory identification scheme can change this depressing outlook.

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