Naturally we are thrilled that the Government has announced a call for evidence for the mandatory microchipping of cats.
It all began with Rehman Chishti MP and the Cats Bill.....
The Cats Bill aimed to require the driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a cat to stop and give information or report the accident, and to require the keepers of cats to ensure they are microchipped.
We worked extremely closely with Rehman, given our extensive work on the issue of reportable road accidents involving cats, and our draft law shaped the way the RTA side of the Bill was considered. We had previously done extensive research on the issue and produced a draft piece on how incidents would be reported and how it would be enforced. We would later produce this to impressed DEFRA officials and members of the shadow cabinet who would go as far as to include it in the Animal Welfare Manifesto.
The aim of the Cats Bill was to bring as much awareness of the issue as possible, as well as prompting the Government to act.
In December 2018, Rehman hosted the Cat Welfare Debate in Parliament. We worked with Rehman's team on putting forward a range of issues facing our cats, but of course the main issues centred around the Cats Bill itself - especially RTAs, scanning and microchipping.
As a result of the debate, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DEFRA, David Rutely announced he would look in to taking forward the issue of the mandatory microchipping of cats.
This also paved the way to follow on the work on scanning and RTAs with ministers after the now Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak's, recommendations of CatsMatter. These talks continue to this day for future proposal intentions.
Fast forward to June 2019, and David Rutely announced there will be an upcoming call for evidence on the issue.
Also in June, representatives for CatsMatter met with DEFRA's policy advisers to speak further about the Cats Bill's aims, as well as to discuss further our work with local authorities on the issue of councils scanning deceased cats found by the roadside. To ask local councils scan cats found, and ask drivers report incidents where they have struck a cat with their vehicle, there first needs to be the assurance there will be a microchip to scan. Discussing further the issue of the mandatory microchipping of cats, we pledged to wholeheartedly support the upcoming call for evidence, and have now been asked to assist the research team.
Our meeting with DEFRA officials was extremely positive. We discussed how to take forward the issue of reportable RTAs, as well councils scanning pets found roadside. We will continue to work with DEFRA officials for the foreseeable, and are feeling extremely positive for the future of cats welfare and rights on our roads.
The call for evidence will close on 4th January 2020. It is a call for evidence at this stage, and not opinion. In particular, the Government would like evidence of;
*The benefits and drawbacks of requiring owners to microchip their cats, including costs
*How microchipping could help fix any nuisance problems
*How microchipping all cats would apply to feral or stray cats
*How they could make the rules, check and enforce them
*Details of experiences with current compliant microchip databases
*any exemptions we should consider to microchipping cats
If you feel you can/want to contribute to this call for evidence, you can do so here. Otherwise, you are welcome to contact CatsMatter to speak further about the above. We have already been contacted by a large number of you with concerns and suggestions with this call for evidence, and we are happy to investigate these further to be put across. Issues from our supporters have ranged from fear of what happens to feral colonies they look after, to fears over exemptions due to particular medical issues. All genuine issues presented to us will be considered to be researched fully along with our contacts at varying related organisations around the UK. Our intention is to help put forward the very best evidence and concern ourselves only with the welfare of all cats.