Microchipping reforms could help crack down on pet theft

There has been a 40% increase in the number of strays in the last year, which is partly down to the cost of living crisis, ITV News' Amy Lewis reports

Stolen or lost pets could be reunited with their owners more quickly due to a new microchipping system being introduced by the government.

Reforms set out by ministers aim to make microchip records easier to access, improve the accuracy of the information they contain, and standardise databases.

Ministers hope the move, which was welcomed by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, will help deter pet theft across England.

Environment minister Lord Douglas-Miller said: “Pets are treasured members of the family so it can be devastating for owners when they are lost or stolen.

“These vital reforms will simplify the microchipping system to make it quicker for vets, local authorities and police to access important information when they need it, helping to safeguard pets from theft and increase the likelihood of lost pets being returned home.”

The government is also backing a new bill to make pet abduction a specific offence. Credit: PA

Michael Webb, Battersea’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “We see dogs and cats arrive at our centres every day with out-of-date microchips, or sadly no microchip at all, making it near-impossible for our staff to reunite people with their pets.

“These reforms, which we have been calling for for some time, will not only help rescues like Battersea reunite more pets in less time, but also hopefully better protect dogs and cats from theft.”

Microchipping for pet cats is due to become compulsory from June as part of a drive to crack down on pet theft.

The government is also supporting other measures to prevent animal-related crime.

It will be backing a law change sponsored by Conservative Southend West MP Anna Firth which aims to create a specific criminal offence of pet abduction via a Private Member’s Bill.

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