Could you imagine getting separated from your companion animal? In the dark about their whereabouts? It isn’t something we’d like to dwell upon but it could happen to anyone: the outdoors cat taking a wrong turn, ending up in a garden and getting adopted by the neighbour who thinks the cat is a stray, or a dog getting spooked, running off into the woods after a walk, and unable to find their way back home. By identifying and registering (I&R) your companion animal, you can’t prevent all possible calamities but you can ensure they can be identified and returned to you if found by a person or the police.
Many people aren’t aware of the crucial importance of microchipping and registering their cats and dogs. Even though it’s the only way to maximise the chances of being reunited with them, should they ever go missing, or worse, get stolen. Identification and Registration (I&R) is the only available traceability system that proves the link between a companion animal and their carer and it greatly increases the probability of being reunited.
Current legislation in the European Union for owned animals
I&R is mandatory throughout the EU but only when a cat or dog is officially moved from one country to another, meaning that it only applies when they are taken along on a holiday or move to a new country. EU countries can autonomously decide about their I&R legislation when it comes to their own borders, the majority of the EU states have mandatory I&R legislation for dogs while I&R for cats remains largely voluntary. When mandatory legislation applies, animals need to be microchipped and registered in between 2 and 4 months from birth. See the table below for more details:
How does it work?
The identification process is relatively straight forward: a transponder, carrying the microchip, is inserted under the skin of the animal, a quick procedure that can only be facilitated by a veterinarian. The number of the chip is subsequently registered by the veterinary or a public authority into a government approved database for cats and dogs. After registering with the database, your registry will hold all the details of the owner including the name, home address, phone number, and email address, as well as the name and date of birth of the animal, and the ID number associated with the microchip. When an animal is found by someone, they can simply take the animal to a veterinarian, who will be able to detect the ID of the animal by using a microchip reader and looking up the contact details of the owner, by consulting the official registries of which they have direct access. Should the animal be found by the police, they will take care of identifying and getting in touch with the owner.
Why is it important?
This registration enables you to demonstrate your relationship to the animal, increasing the chance of being reunited with them but also decreasing the possibility of someone else simply pretending to be their carer. If you want to give yourself the best chance of being reunited, you should ensure you have chipped and registered your companion. And perhaps needless to say, it’s also important to keep your information up to date. If you (temporarily) move, simply edit the registered details, making sure that your animal is registered in your place of residence, especially if you change to other regions or countries. If you move from one country to another, even for a temporary period, it’s recommended that you register your companion animal in the official registry of the new place of temporary residence. It is also important to take note of EUROPETNET, an EU-wide registry operation that is progressively acquiring data from national registries in order to support the reunion of animals and their human companions. Europetnet can be consulted whenever an animal is found in a different country than they are registered in. As long as the animal is microchipped, it is possible to try and identify the owner by using the EUROPETNET search engine, which is available online.
According to the latest statistics, animals who have been registered using I&R have a 50-90% chance of being reunited with their human companion. If you haven’t taken care of the I&R for your companion yet, make an appointment with your vet or an animal health authority as soon as possible.
We will be sharing more content regarding I&R and animal welfare in Europe, so keep following us and if we are missing a topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us through facebook. We will be keeping a close eye on animal welfare regulation after 31-10-2019. This article might be subject to change after 31-10-2019.
If you like to know more about this topic, please visit the following websites:
The UK Government’s website to find the right registry database for you and your companion
The European Commission regarding the full requirements to move an animal from one country to another
Federation of Veterinarians of Europe for frequently asked questions regarding topics such as pet passports in all official EU languages
EUROPETNET for any information regarding companion animal traceability in the EU