The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

Dog Micro-chipping compulsory by 2012

Malta Independent Thursday, 10 March 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

All dogs in Malta will have to be micro-chipped and registered in the National Livestock Database by next year.

Amendments to the Dogs Act, which will come into force in the coming days once they are published in the Government Gazette, will bind dog owners to micro-chip and license their dog, to enable better dog tracking.

Until 2010, only 5,368 dogs had been registered with the police. However, the animal welfare department estimates that there are around 100,000 dogs in the Maltese Islands.

Since the department was set up, over 1,000 dogs have been collected from the streets, so the need to introduce a system that enables traceability and better control was felt.

From 50 years ago until now, dog owners were expected to pay a dog licence worth €2.33 a year per dog owned. This fee used to be collected by the police. However, it was never enforced and only 5,368 dog owners did so regularly. Now, dog owners will have to micro-chip their furry friends, upon a one-time payment of €10 for neutered dogs and €20 for those not neutered.

Visually impaired guide-dog owners will be issued a licence free of charge.

Registered dogs should have an identification badge, with their owners’ contact details, attached to their collar. The badge indicates that the dog is registered and legally licensed.

The difference in cost is meant to encourage dog neutering and prevent more dogs ending up straying on the streets, because of irresponsible ownership.

The one-time payment includes the micro-chip, the injection required to implant the microchip and the licence.

Dog owners will also be given a booklet containing information about dog owners’ legal obligations that will come into force once the new Act is published. All obligations will be translated into simple language and published in a user-friendly booklet.

“Lack of traceability makes way for animal abuse. Stray dogs suffer a lot because of the natural elements, but they are also disease carriers, which could threaten human health. Stray dogs also pose dangers when they form packs, because they could become aggressive, threatening both humans and their pets,” Resources and Rural Affairs Ministers George Pullicino said during the launch of the micro-chipping system yesterday.

The micro-chip is minuscule, the size of a long-grain rice, which by international convention is injected in the fat layer in between the dogs’ shoulder blades. Each chip is uniquely numbered, so that each dog has a personalised identification number that corresponds with its owner’s information. Veterinaries then register the number with the animal welfare department via e-mail. The information on the chip can be read by specialised scanners.

Once registered, the pet would be listed on the National Livestock Database, which is being extended to keep tabs on dog ownership. Eventually the owners receive the licence by post, from the animal welfare department.

The licence would be valid until the dog dies, unless the dog owner changes. In such cases, the new owner should notify the Veterinary Directorate within a week, so that a new licence can be issued.

Once the dog registration process is concluded, the process to start registering cats would start.

Fines

Those found to be in possession of unregistered dogs, or who give wrong information about their dogs, by the end of the year risk being fined €300.

In the case of a chip failing to work, owners would have to pay a €500 fine unless it is proven that the chip is still in the dog’s body. Veterinarians who fail to comply with the system or provide misinformation regarding the dog registration will also be fined €500.

For further information, the Resources and Rural Affairs Ministry can be contacted on 2295 2170.

Dog micro-chipping is expected to

• Lessen numbers of stray dogs.

• Facilitate the search for lost dogs.

• Serve as a deterrent for people abandoning their dogs, because otherwise they would be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.

• Deter dog fights, as the fighter dog owners would be easily identifiable.

• In the case of attacks on people or other pets, the dog’s owner would be identified.

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