Compulsory microchipping to improve horse welfare
Government legislation now states that all owners must microchip their horses, ponies and donkeys by October 2020, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble. The long lead time up to this deadline enables owners to combine microchipping with a routine visit to, or from, their vet.
The Government is working closely with equine vets and the British Horse Council to highlight this change in microchip regulations. The resulting Central Equine Database will be a complete log of all domesticated horses, offering a practical solution to pressing animal welfare issues which arise when horses are abandoned and make it easier to rehome the animals more quickly and effectively. The database will also allow local authorities and police to track down the owners of discarded horses, make sure they are held to account and the animals given the care they deserve.
Failing to microchip a horse by October 2020, will result in sanctions from the owner's local authority, including a compliance notice and a fine of up to £200.
The RSPCA reports to have rescued almost 1,000 horses in 2017 and a huge majority were not microchipped, making it virtually impossible to trace the owners. Compulsory microchipping will help find those owners who abandon their horses as well as helping reunite others with animals that have been stolen.
This new legislation has the full support of the British Horse Council, which reiterates that it will not only enable irresponsible owners to be held properly accountable for the treatment of their animals and aid in reuniting owners with lost or stolen horses, but also significantly support the UK’s efforts to protect our equines from disease outbreaks.