Dog owners in North Devon have been urged to avoid the nightmare of losing their beloved pet forever.
It is now law for all dogs to be micro-chipped, but North Devon Council says not all local dog owners are following the rules, making it very difficult to reunite them with their pets.
As part of its Clear Messages campaign, which is being supported by the North Devon Gazette, the council is calling on people to ensure their dogs are chipped, but just as importantly, that those details are kept up to date.
When read by a vet or one of the council environmental protection team, a microchip will supply information such as the owner’s name, address and a contact number, which are stored on an online database.
But people often forget to update their details when moving home or changing their telephone number.
Last year the council’s dog wardens picked up 243 lost or stray dogs in the district, with a significant number that were either not chipped, or had incorrect details.
By law, dogs in public should also wear a collar, or collar and tag, that has the owner’s contact details.
It also costs money and council time to collect and house dogs until their owners are found – which is all paid for by the tax payer.
Councillor Rodney Cann, said: “We know there are lots of loving dog owners in North Devon, myself included, and yet lots of people are failing to microchip their dogs and many more forget to update the chip details when they move house or get a new mobile number.
“As well as causing unnecessary stress and anxiety to you and your dog, failing to chip your dog and keep the details up to date could result in a £500 fine.
“Protect your pet - chip it, check it and keep it up to date.”
Neighbourhood officer Ray Jones, added: “As well as complying with the law, there are good reasons to microchip your dog.
“If we pick up a lost dog and it’s chipped we can reunite it with the owner in a matter or hours, rather than days.”
For more information about microchipping and other dog-related issues, go to the council’s website at www.northdevon.gov.uk/dogs