Your Pet’s Microchip Is NO Proof Of Ownership

As a vet I strongly encourage all animal owners to microchip their pets. It is not only necessary for crossing boarders when travelling, but once every few weeks, somebody comes to our clinic with a found pet. By scanning the microchip that is no bigger than a rice grain sitting under the skin, we are able to retrieve an identification number assigned to the animal and then contact the owner and bring the pet back home. I am always relieved when the pet is chipped, otherwise it is a long search, stressful for the animal and the owner.


But what is the legal status of a microchip? If a dog or a cat is registered on your name, does it mean it belongs to you?

Unfortunately having your name and details on your pet’s microchip record, does not make you automatically the owner. Yes, it was a big disappointment to me too. If you let your cat stroll outside, it is likely she jumps over the fence to neighbour’s garden, have a meal there or even sleep over, when she feels like. It is easier to contain your dog in the garden, however pet theft or an accident (open gates, running away in heat) and your dog can also go missing.

In my knowledge there is no country in the world where a vet is obliged to scan a pet for a microchip to proof the ownership. Even if the client who brought a pet in the clinic is not the owner, the veterinarian needs the client’s consent to share information about the pet with the registered owner. There have been many cases when a pet brought in a clinic was registered as missing or stolen and veterinary staff informed the registered owner. Unfortunately by doing so veterinary doctor violates confidentiality of the client’s personal information and acts against the law.

There was a case in the UK, where a woman announced her 2.5 year old cat missing and 4 years later found her again through a vet. Obviously the people, who had the cat for the last 4 years did not want to give her away easily, because they felt she was part of their family after 4 years living at their place. The initial owner had to go to the civil court to prove her ownership. The court ruled for cat’s return to the original owner. This decision was met because the previous owner conducted search of the missing animal and there was no proof that the animal was previously neglected. However, it is not only the details on the microchip that matter, in case of dispute – veterinary bills, registration and licence at the municipality, pedigree registration, personal photos could back up your ownership. Other things that will be considered is how much time, money resources you can offer the pet. Any criminal, abuse offence, drug history would make your chances of custody lower.

In the UK alone an estimated 3,000 dogs are stolen each year and many are sold on to new owners. I believe, that re-registration of pets who are reported as missing or stolen should be made illegal, if the previous owner has not intentionally abandoned the pet or renounce his/her ownership. If you found a pet or even bought it, make sure it does not belong to another person, you would be thankful if your pooch finds way back home too.

I have never personally got into situation, where people would not return a found animal to the legitimate owner.  So I still believe that microchipping is a great tool to reunite lost pets with their owners. But we should rise awareness and when registering new clients recheck pets for chips and the information provided.


Rasa G.Z.

Dogo – positive training team.

Tags: , , ,
Categories: Animal welfare,Positive dog training

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  • Ania said : Hello! After reading your post I was hoping you could help me find an answer to rather difficult and complex situation. A friend of mine asked me for as a favour to look after his dog whilst his bitch wa son the heat . As I’m a huge animal lover and I knew Bono for a while, I was more than happy to do so. After around 3 weeks my friend asked if I wish to keep bono permanently as himself, he’s getting a new dog. I was thrilled as naturally I got used to bono and spending time with him . I was over the moon , spoiling my little boy as much as possible. I contacted my landlord and asked for permission, which thankfully was granted after paying £200 non refundable pet deposit. I’m 30 yrs old, I don’t have children, I work full time, however my partner and I work alternating shifts so bono rarely stay home alone for longer than 6hrs. Sometimes, I would pop in home on my lunch break just to make sure he’s ok and take him for a walk. On days off we take him beach, parks etc. To summarise my life goes around bono . Everything would be great if it wasn’t for my friends ex girlfriend who contacted me stating that bono is actually hers and that he’s been only looked after temporarily until she finds accommodation that allows pets. I was shocked and devastated. But after rather cold exchange of few sentences I gave up and told her to come nd get bono since she’s the owner . She laughed at me saying she won’t and if I cannot keep him I should pay for the hotel/care . Naturally I got mad thinking how dare she thinking I will be look after ‘her’ dog, buy specially designed hypoallergenic feed, get involved emotionally so just when she’s ready she can come and pick him up . I even bought pet insurance... not sure how to deal with this situation. Was hoping for some advice . Many thanks ! January 11, 2019 | Reply
    • Rasa Žiema said : Thank you, Ania, for your comment. I hope things have cleared themselves. Otherwise, I would contact her ex-boyfriend and would ask for more information. If he disagrees with the girl's story and says she actually abandoned the dog before, I would ask for a signed statement from his part, telling his side of the story. At the same time collect all the checks that you spend on the dog, so you can prove that you were taking care of him. From a human point of view. If she started missing her dog only after a few months and found out that Bono lives at your place, I think it is fair to think, that doesn't really need the dog. In addition, to that dropping comments that she will pick him up and later decide not to, doesn't sound like responsible "ownership". Save all the emails and messages, if you can communicate with her in a written form so you can easily track who said what, etc. It would be cruel, if after a year she decides to take Bono, not only for you but for the dog as well. Dogs need stable conditions and changing of owners is a big stressing factor. Best of luck. Share your story with us! April 1, 2019 | Reply
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  • Andrea Quintana said : I lost my baby Chloe in July 'and I found her .When I went to get her the lady doesn't want to give her to me January 13, 2019 | Reply
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    • Rasa Žiema said : Thank you very much for kind words. Have you tried our Dogo App. It is actually more informative than our website. Let me know if we can help somehow. April 1, 2019 | Reply