There’s a big debate on at present about whether dog registration should be compulsory. Most of the people and organisations putting forward opinions have little ‘hands on’ experience of the stray dog problem. The majority, if not all, of the big animal shelters do not take in strays. If they did, they would know that compulsory microchipping and dog registration is unlikely to make any difference to the problem of stray and out of control dogs. Anyone with a dog they love and take care of will benefit from getting their pet microchipped. If it’s lost the finder will have their contact details and can get in touch. The dog goes back home – a happy ending.
The little dog in the picture is a typical stray – undernourished, a skin problem, not housetrained, not good with children. When a dog is aggressive, out of control or just abandoned, the owner will not want it back. Even though it’s microchipped (and might be registered) it is all too easy to deny all knowledge and say they parted with it earlier. ‘No, that’s not my dog any more. I sold it. My girlfriend took it when she left. A pal at work bought it from me.’ These are the typical excuses we get when we follow up the microchip number. It would be the same if dogs were registered. How could anyone prove that the dog was in the same ownership? People who do not train or want their dogs are unlikely to bother to update details. Even an army of ‘pet police’ would be unable to get to the facts.
Compulsory schemes would be expensive to administer. How much would it cost to set up and run such a scheme? Probably millions – another burden on the taxpayer and dog owners and with doubtful results. Making ownership even more expensive would lead to there being more strays. There is a more effective way of solving the stray/aggressive dog problem and this is through education. Helping owners to have well adjusted and good dogs who are a pleasure to have around. Barking, biting, chewing, destroying furniture, pulling on the lead, attacking other dogs, possessiveness, refusing to be left, hyperactivity, neglected ailments – these are what our strays are like and it’s obvious why the dog has been abandoned. Dogs with diabetes, epilepsy and chronic conditions often come in as strays. No amount of pet registration will get these dogs back to their owners. Vet fees are high and if you are on a low income it is impossible to afford them.
If there weren’t any untrained and badly behaved dogs the number of strays coming in would plummet. Most people love dogs and when they are well behaved they wouldn’t dream of parting with their pet. They just don’t know how to cope with a canine hooligan. The public need more easy-to-understand information, free or low cost dog training classses would be a start. Animal care should be part of the school curriculum. It’s almost impossible to find a home for a problem dog – this is why our dog rehabilitation centre is always full. Knowing where to go to get help when a good dog does bad things is the real answer.