Earlier today, the Scottish Government announced plans to introduce compulsory microchipping of dogs in Scotland from next year.
Scottish Labour has long supported the introduction of compulsory microchipping so today’s announcement is a welcome step forward.
The benefits of microchipping are clear, from helping return dogs to their owners and deterring theft to reducing the burden of stray dogs on local authorities and animal welfare charities.
I particularly welcome the commitment from the Dogs Trust to offer free dog chipping so no dog owner is not prevented from access to the technology through lack of cash. Owners can get in touch with the Dog’s Trust for an appointment at their Scottish Rehoming centres in Glasgow or West Calder or at one of their drop-in events which will run until the legislation comes into force.
We now need to look closely at the detail of the proposals. It is important that dog owners are given the information they need, not only to get their pets microchipped but also to ensure that they keep contact details up to date.
While today’s announcement is welcome, there is more that the Scottish Government could be doing. Scottish Labour has backed a ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars and we challenge the Scottish Government to match that commitment.
The collars are used to train dogs out of fear of further punishment by administering shocks to the dog when they do not perform what is asked of them. Research conducted by DEFRA found that the use of the devices for dog training has a long term negative welfare impact on the animals. Meanwhile, rewards based methods of training have proven successful in modifying behaviour without subjecting dogs to such cruelty.
Public support is behind the campaign. In an independent survey, the Kennel Club found that almost three quarters of Scots are against the use of electric shock collars and would support the introduction of a ban on their use.