The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has announced that all dogs must be microchipped from March 2016.

The dog microchipping programme will be rolled out on a phased basis, beginning with pups in September 2015 and will be expanded to all dogs in March 2016.

Minister Coveney said widespread microchipping of all dogs will have a number of positive benefits. It will provide a basic tool to protect the welfare of all dogs and assist with speedily uniting stray dogs with their owners.

“Furthermore it will act as a deterrent for those who abandon dogs and assist in identifying marauding dogs and those that pose a threat to livestock or people.”

Microchipping will also have an added benefit to owners wishing to take animals out of the country as a microchip is also required for a dog passport, which is needed when moving a dog out of the State. If dogs are already microchipped this will reduce the cost associated with getting a passport.

The Minister said that many responsible owners have already had their dogs microchipped and the vast majority of these will be compliant with the new regulations which will require that the microchip used be ISO compliant and that the microchip details are registered on a database.

“It is important that dog owners ensure that the registered details are up to date and correct so that if their dog is lost they can be contacted.”

The Minister welcomed the fact that the cost of the implanting of microchips and data registration services has been falling, further helped by the economies of scale that the new compulsory scheme will undoubtedly bring.

In light of the need to help keep the cost as affordable as possible there are provisions for microchipping and registration to be carried out in particular circumstances by trained people other than veterinarians.

Furthermore, there are initiatives which help to subsidise microchipping for those of restricted means.

The Minister also reminded dog owners that “dog ownership brings with it a variety of responsibilities to protect the welfare of the animal and to ensure it is appropriately fed, sheltered, exercised and provided with veterinary care.

“Microchipping and registration is merely one of a number of actions that any responsible dog owner should undertake. Vaccination and neutering are important to protect and enhance levels of dog welfare in Ireland.”