British dog owners must implant a microchip in their pets by 2016 or face a hefty $800 fine, in an effort to make owners more responsible for their pets.
The microchip mandate will go fully into effect in April of 2016, writes the Guardian, and is meant to help decline the numbers of dogs that are abandoned — at cost to the taxpayer — every year in Britain.
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Dog owners will also have to record a change of ownership with the government, says the Guardian.
Critics of the new measure claim that it will disproportionately harm otherwise law-abiding retirees, and others who may not be aware of the new regulations, says the Telegraph.
British environment secretary Owen Paterson told the Telegraph that the microchips will be free for all dog owners who require financial assistance, and will be subsidized by animal welfare charities.
"It's a shame that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down," said Paterson to the Guardian.
"I am determined to put an end to this and ease the pressure on charities and councils to find new homes for these dogs."
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Microchips are implanted in a brief injection under the skin of an animal that feels like a "small pinch or mild sting," according to British animal welfare group Dogs Trust, and can be detected by a special scanner used by humane societies and veterinarians.
Dogs Trust added that local authorities will be allowed to scan pets for microchips after 2016 if an animal is found straying.
The chips are linked to a national pet database, and can be used to return an animal to the rightful owner if they escape or are stolen.
Here's a video of what the procedure looks like from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home: