Compulsory microchipping is to be introduced for all dogs in England in 2016, DEFRA has announced.

The move is being introduced to improve welfare, tackle strays and help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets – an issue that is of growing concern among ruralresidents.

Free microchipping will be available in the run-up to the date at the Dogs Trust’s 18 rehoming centres across England, along with 18 Blue Cross venues.

Owners found by the police or local authorities not to have a microchip after 6 April 2016 will face a fine of up to £500.

“Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners. It makes it easier to get their pet back if it strays and easier to trace if it’s stolen,” said DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson.

Claire Horton, chief executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which is also offering free microchipping, said: “Having no chip in a dog can mean any reunion can take days to happen, if it happens at all.”

There are about eight million pet dogs in the UK and nearly 60% are already microchipped.

More on this topic

Farmers Weekly has been investigating the issue of dog thefts in the countryside including speaking to one victim whose pets were stolen.