PAWS for thought – has your dog been micro-chipped?

The government announced last week that dogs in England will be micro-chipped for free – an incentive to make sure all dogs are chipped before April 2016 when chipping will become compulsory.

Currently there are around eight million pet dogs in the UK, and nearly 60 per cent are already chipped.

Each year, more than 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost in the UK at a cost of £57 million to the taxpayer and welfare charities.

Over half of the stray dogs picked up by police, local authorities and animal welfare charities could not be re-homed because their owner could not be identified – a problem which causes 6,000 dogs to be put down every year.

Kim Hamilton, chief executive of animal charity Blue Cross said: "Compulsory micro-chipping will make a huge difference to the work of charities like Blue Cross, as we struggle to find homes for an increasing number of stray and unwanted pets."

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood, who has campaigned for this measure for years, welcomed the move as it will help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities, and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership.

"This move has been a long time coming, but I’m delighted the coalition government is now going to do the right thing," said Mr Horwood.

"Micro-chipping will help to bring down the number of unidentified strays and it will help animal charities to track down owners and return lost pets.

"It will also help the authorities to identify dangerous dog owners who allow their animals to hurt other animals, and pose a threat to human beings."

Eight children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005, with many of these attacks taking place in the home. In the last year alone, over 3,000 postal workers were attacked by dangerously out of control dogs, and 70 per cent of these attacks happened on private property.

The changes follow a consultation of over 27,000 people which ran from April to June 2012.