National Dog Warden Association (NDWA)
1984 - 2019

Why A Dog Had To Die

Fri, 20 Feb 2015

By Neil Burton

NDWA Chairperson

A routine call to a stray dog found in the area where I work as a Dog Warden ended up with the dog having to be destroyed because of a totally avoidable error on the part of the keeper of the dog.

The dog a male German Shepherd had been found in a remote rural part of the district. The cynical side of me immediately assumed that the dog had been dumped. I carried out the standard checks for identification, collar and tag, microchip and tattoo. Great, the dog has a microchip, perhaps it has run off whilst being walked?

Even as I wrote the microchip number down I was aware that it was not a United Kingdom microchip. On ringing one of the UK databases I was advised that the microchip was not recorded on any UK microchip database and was in fact a German microchip.

Oh no I thought, this will make it difficult to find out any details and I was not wrong there!

The German database was contacted and due to German Data Protection Legislation their details could NOT be divulged directly. This meant that the person named as the keeper of our German Shepherd had to be contacted by the German database.

This duly occurred but unsurprisingly the dog had been given away to a gentleman who had brought it to England but there were no details of who this person was? This state of affairs started alarm bells ringing, without any Pet Passport documentation and therefore contact details for an owner, the dog may well have been illegally imported into the United Kingdom.

Now Animal Welfare at the County Council became involved and there was no option but to deal with the dog under the Rabies Order 1974. The County Council advised that the dog had to be placed into quarantine or destroyed to protect the bio-integrity of the United Kingdom.

Not having the funding to put a dog through four months of quarantine, the dog had to be euthanized. As sad as that procedure was and I was present when this took place, any blame should be placed clearly at the door of two people.

Firstly the owner whether or not the dog had been brought in legally or illegally, that person had failed to carry out a simple procedure, namely failing to add the dog's microchip to one of the many microchip databases in the country.

The second person to blame although blamed as the figurehead rather than as an individual is the person in charge of microchipping matters at the Department of Environment Farming and Rural Affairs, namely DEFRA.

If an animal is brought in to the UK via an airline there is a record of that taking place. I have managed to trace owners of dogs found straying that still had the old contact details for Sydney Australia and Christchurch New Zealand but only because the dogs had been brought in via air.

There is no such lifeline available for dogs coming through the UK border by sea via ferries or the channel tunnel. Then again this may go someway towards explaining the plethora of dogs smuggled in to the UK from Eastern Europe and beyond that are illegally brought in and sold for a fraction of the price of the same breed in the UK.

When a dog is brought to the border, the carrier, meaning the ferry company or the Channel Tunnel are responsible for checking that the dog has a microchip that correspond with the microchip number on the valid Pet Passport before it is allowed through the border. The carrier is merely satisfied that the numbers match, they do not check the microchip details. As far as they are concerned it is all in order and that is plainly obvious if a microchip number in a dog and on a Pet Passport match up.

Apparently though there is no actual record of that dog coming through the border, the information is not stored anywhere? If for example when a microchip was checked at a later date in regard to a foreign microchip and it would show that the dog had come through the border at, for example Dover, at least a trail would form.

When a foreign microchip is added to a UK database perhaps the database should ask the registering keeper where the dog was brought into the country. Either way it would provide a link that could shed light on how and where a dog came into the country. If it was recorded as coming via ferry or Channel Tunnel it must therefore have had the Pet Passport checked and the dog was fully vaccinated.

Also awareness is required to advise pet owners bringing animals in or moving to the UK that they need to register their animals microchip details on a UK database.

If the keeper of the German Shepherd Dog had done that it would not have been destroyed. If DEFRA decreed that all dogs and cats coming through the border had to be recorded and the details went through to a central microchip database there would be less chance for an unrecorded animal being found dumped and therefore having to be destroyed.

Additionally if dogs and cats had to be checked OUT of the country as well when leaving via ferries or Channel Tunnel this would provide a trail and may identify stolen dogs being taken out of the country.

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