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14 Per Cent of Missing Pets Never Return Home

03 July 2014

UK - A quarter of all dog owners (26 per cent) and over a third (40 per cent) of cat owners have not microchipped at least one of their pets, a new study has found.

A shocking one third of owners are not safeguarding their pets by having them microchipped, and worryingly 21 per cent of pet owners have had a cat or dog stolen.

The independent survey carried out by Animal Friends also found that 14 per cent of pet owners who have had a pet stolen or go missing never got their pet back.

Official police data shows the equivalent of at least three cats and dogs were stolen each day last year, according to the organisation Vets Get Scanning.

With such high pet theft figures, and since microchips are intended to help reunite a lost pet with its owner, micro-chipping should be an important aspect of owning a pet.

However, this new study reveals that for almost one in six owners this is far from the case: 15 per cent chose 'I haven't thought about it' as the reason behind not micro-chipping their pet, making this the most popular reason given, and demonstrating a lack of public awareness of the identification method.

The animal insurance provider's research found that one in ten people (10 per cent) chose 'my pet never leaves my side or somewhere safe like a house' as their main reason for not getting their pet micro-chipped.

However, recent statistics released by Vets Get Scanning found that 52 per cent of pets are in fact stolen from their own gardens, while 19 per cent are taken from people's homes in a house burglary.

Awareness of micro-chipping may not be enough to secure a safe return should your pet go missing, though: Animal Friends' study also addressed an issue concerning vets not making use of the microchips pets are carrying.

Currently, vets do not routinely scan animals brought in to them - something that the majority of people questioned view as wrong: 72 per cent of those surveyed think that all animals admitted to a vet's care should have their microchips checked.

Just 21 per cent believe the vet should need a reason, saying this should only be done if the vet is suspicious that the pet may be stolen.

From April 2016, it will be mandatory for all dogs to be micro-chipped, and Vets Get Scanning notes that the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has now stated: "We support scanning new patients as best practice," indicating that micro-chipping pets is the future, and that it should become increasingly effective as scanning becomes routine.

Debbie Matthews, daughter of presenter and entertainer Sir Bryce Forsyth, is one high-profile believer that vets should routinely scan pets admitted to their care.

After her Yorkshire Terriers, Gizmo and Widget, were stolen from her car, Debbie was horrified to hear that vets don't scan pets for microchips - meaning that the identification devices in her dogs wouldn't necessarily help her find them.

In fact, it was only through the media attention the case attracted that Debbie was reunited with her pets.

Debbie is now an active campaigner of the Vets Get Scanning petition to get vets to adopt a practice policy where all dogs that come into their practice are routinely scanned for microchips on their first visit.

Debbie told Animal Friends: “Each vet practice sets their own practice policy, which means although BVA (British Veterinary Association) now states it is 'best practice' to scan new registering pets, they don't all have to.

"We started the campaign after we found out that when a stolen dog is sold on to an unsuspecting new owner, no scan would be done on registering a new pet accompanied by an owner.

Microchips only reunite pet and owner if a pet is scanned. Owners of microchipped pets assume that this is already happening but it appears they are wrong. You only find out who is and who is not scanning when your pet goes missing or is stolen.

This campaign is now aimed not just at vets but also rehoming centres, dog wardens, highway agencies and rail networks. It's not hard to see why so many missing dogs and cats are never found with the lack of scanning going on.”

For more stats click here.

ThePetSite News Desk

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