After April 1, it will be illegal to give a dog to another person, even for free, unless the animal has been microchipped. If a dog is found not to have a microchip the owner could face a fine of up to €5,000.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the microchipping programme had been rolled out on a phased basis, commencing with pups last year.
“Widespread microchipping of all dogs brings a range of benefits including the protection of the welfare of dogs and assists with speedy identification of stray dogs and their owners,” he said. “It will act as a deterrent for those who abandon dogs and assist in identifying marauding dogs and those that pose a threat to livestock or people.”
The minister said many owners have already had their dogs microchipped, particularly since the laws were signed last year. He also stressed the requirement to ensure the microchip used was ISO compliant and that the microchip details were registered on an authorised database.
His department said there are currently four authorised databases Animark, Fido, The Irish Coursing Club, and the Irish Kennel Club. All of these will issue an ownership certificate which allows owners to ensure registered details relating to their dog are correct. The certificate is also needed for transfer of ownership.
The department insisted that purchasers should not buy or accept a dog without a certificate. It said further details regarding the authorised database can be found on its website.
Over the course of the last month a number of charities have offered a limited amount of free microchipping and in other cases state funding has meant that providers have been able to offer subsidised chipping.
Mr Coveney said: “Dog ownership involves responsibilities to protect the welfare of the animal. Microchipping and registration is merely one of a number of actions that any responsible dog owner should undertake. Vaccination and neutering are also important considerations in protecting and enhancing levels of dog welfare in Ireland.”
According to Dogs Trust, which has been at the forefront of the microchipping campaign, the microchips are small electronic devices, roughly the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner. A microchip works through radio wave frequency. The memory in the microchip contains a unique 15 digit number — no two dogs will get the same number.