The millions of cat owners in the United Kingdom may soon be forced to microchip their furry friends, or face fines for refusal, due to new government policies that are working to prevent feline theft, which has been on the rise within the past year for the nation.
Police data in the UK shows that the number of cats being stolen has tripled within the past five years; with a notable 12.3% increase last year alone. Owners are now being called upon to microchip their cats the same way dogs are so in the case of a petnapping, they’ll be easier to track down; and it will be easier to find the perpetrator.
Local media reports wrote that “a microchipping measure, which means animals can be tracked and identified if stolen and resold, is being introduced as part of a package of changes by a ministerial taskforce to combat the growing black market in stolen pets. Those who do not get their cats registered will face a fine of up to £500.”
Robert Buckland is the UK’s justice secretary who’s running the taskforce for this initiative alongside Priti Patel and George Eustice, the home and environment secretaries. One government spokesperson spoke to the press this week about these new measures:
“Last month the home secretary, the lord chancellor and the environment secretary met to discuss a cross-government approach to combating this issue and we will announce next steps in due course. This builds upon the huge amounts of work already undertaken by junior ministers and officials to address this cruel and criminal practice.”
Stefan Blakiston Moore, an advocacy and government relations officer for Cats Protection, said: “It is a Conservative manifesto commitment [for cats to be legally microchipped] so we hope they will come forward with this. Cats Protection has been campaigning for it for a number of years. We are waiting for a response to that but we are hopeful a positive change will come and compulsory microchipping is brought in.”
Moore explained that currently in the “UK there are 2.6 million cats that are not microchipped. It is usually a significant amount of cats and the risk is when they go missing or are stolen as has been reported. Without a microchip it is extremely difficult to reunite them with their owners.”
Ministers are also considering a ban on all cash purchases of pets as a means of stopping the black market for pet trading; one of the largest black markets in the world besides drugs. Some cat breeds can sell for over $2,000, and lockdown has led to a major surge in dog and cat sales, which has led to an increase in pet theft.
“There is a thriving black market in cash sales of animals, no questions asked. A cash ban is appealing because we know it crippled the stolen scrap metal industry and microchipping is absolutely central to the way in which animals’ welfare is maintained,” a senior government source told the press.
The bill is currently being discussed among ministers in the UK, and a decision will likely be reached in the coming month.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.