Straying’s over, Rover, the state is watching you
Even dogs cannot escape the surveillance state. Under plans to be put forward by both Labour and the Conservatives at the next election, all dogs will have to be fitted with a microchip with their owner’s name, address and phone number.
In addition, a national database will hold details of all dogs in the country, including their breed, age and health. Owners who fail to insert a microchip containing a unique barcode will face a fine and possibly the right to keep their dog.
Both Labour and the Tories believe the policy will curb the number of stray dogs and will deter owners from buying dogs they do not look after properly. The microchip, which is inserted under the skin, usually at the scruff of the neck, is also intended to help stop the trade in stolen dogs.
The effectiveness of microchips is well known and was illustrated by the experience of Debbie Matthews, daughter of Bruce Forsyth, the television presenter.
She had her yorkshire terriers snatched from the back of her BMW while she went shopping. The thieves sold them on to other people but vets were still able to establish their real identity as they both had microchips beneath their skin.
Andrew Rosindell MP, the Conservative animal welfare spokesman, said he thought microchipping would stop Britain’s pounds overflowing with strays and help identify irresponsible owners.
The Conservative council in Wandsworth, south London, has already made it compulsory for council tenants with dogs to microchip their animals and log details on a database.
Rosindell, MP for Romford, Essex, said microchips also helped to cut crime. “If a dog that has been involved in fighting or bad behaviour has been microchipped, it will help the police find who the owner is,” he said.
Ian Cawsey MP, a vice-chairman of the Labour party who has been asked by Gordon Brown to draw up animal welfare policies, also said microchipping was vital.
The policy will be at the heart of Labour’s animal welfare proposals to be unveiled at its conference this week. They include a ban on shock collars for badly behaved dogs. The collars, which have been condemned by animal welfare organisations as cruel, emit an electric shock to stop the dog misbehaving.
The proposals also include plans to ban wild animals from circuses and to outlaw the sale of reptiles that have not been bred in the UK.
Labour is planning a fresh assault on hunting and shooting with a ban on the intensive rearing of game birds, such as pheasants. It also wants to bring in fresh measures to protect wild animals, including phasing out the use of snares to catch foxes and rabbits.