Government Consultation on the Scanning of Cats
Yes! You read the header correct.
We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing you such positive news amidst a year of misery for so many.
Last Christmas and New year, we were busy writing an 11'000-word document for the microchipping of cats call for evidence, and this year we are so pleased to be announcing yet another Government consultation.
The Government have now launched a consultation for vets and councils to scan domestic pets as mandatory action. You can have your say HERE.
As our supporters are well aware now, it all started with one MP and his belief in rights for cats. We remain honoured to have worked with Rehman Chishti MP on the Cats Bill. There were ups, such as the Bill securing a consultation on the microchipping of cats following the manifesto pledge. But also downs, such as watching helplessly as a cat lay on a surgery table after being hit by a car. Undertaking research for the Bill, ourselves and Rehman were present in surgery as vets battled to save a road traffic accident victim. Thankfully, the cat we watched being worked on by vets at the Blue Cross Victoria hospital did go on to make a full recovery, but it was a sobering reminder of how important the Cats Bill was and how we can never give up on these special animals. The cat very likely survived because someone got him the help he needed, rather than leave him roadside. You can read more in-depth detail of the Bills process through Parliament HERE.
During 2019 and early 2020, we attended meetings with DEFRA's animal welfare team and the legislation researchers. In all our meetings, and repeatedly in our call for evidence documents, we reiterated that microchips are only effective if they are scanned. For years we have worked with individual councils to implement a scanning approach locally, which resulted in us bringing the number of councils who did not scan UK wide down to just 1. However, we've made no secret of the fact that scanning is not enough. There are a wide range of issues beyond scanning which we outline HERE in this blog. Raising the issue with DEFRA officials, it was agreed that they, along with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, would adopt a copy of our best practice guide to become official Government advice. Our guide is what we tend to send to councils when they approach us for advice on how to improve their current system. The issues range from advice on storage times, to wanting to understand how the microchip scanners themselves work and how do they go about obtaining the special access codes which will allow them to retrieve owners' details for notification. At this time, they did not want to go down the mandatory scanning avenue.
During the 2020 Covid19 Government briefings, it was acknowledged that the crisis had led to the Government wanting to speed up their plans to become carbon neutral. While this a positive thing, it brought a previous issue we had raised with DEFRA to light once again. You may remember Gemini the cat who was tragically hit by a car and left in the road. Her local council collected her and, rather than scan her for a microchip, they sent her straight for processing as biofuel. Biofuel is a type of renewable energy source derived from microbial, plant, or animal materials. A handful of councils around the UK already use a process where deceased animals collected from the roadside are not incinerated or 'landfilled', they are sent for rendering to be used as biofuel. The bodies are rendered down to fat and converted into biodiesel for use in things such as transportation. Our concern was that Gemini was used in this process without being scanned for a microchip so her grieving family could lay her to rest at home, where she belonged. With the Government proposals to accelerate their green plans, this meant that the number of councils using the biofuel method would inevitably increase rapidly over the coming months/years.
We raised the issue again with DEFRA officials asking that safeguards be put in place as the transition happens or we will likely see more cases like Gemini's. We argued that domestic pets MUST be scanned for microchips, owners notified, and councils allow a period for owners to collect their cat before being sent for processing. We asked they do all they can to ensure this potential future problem never happens. We were thrilled when DEFRA responded and agreed to include the scanning of cats into the microchipping research, which was currently still going through.
During this time, you also had numerous petitions and campaigns ongoing, which all help to put the pressure on the Government. A successful petition was created by the campaign group Tuks Law, who have done brilliantly in pushing DEFRA to extend the research on scanning to vets too - something which was not initially on the agenda. Tuks Law launched their Government petition in the name of a rescue dog named Tuk in a bid to create a new law that would mean vets would be legally required to scan for rescue back up contact details on microchips and confirm the person presenting the animal is registered on the microchip prior to euthanising a healthy or treatable animal. As it stands, anyone can present any cat to a veterinary practice and request they are euthanised, even if the animal is treatable and otherwise healthy. Followers of ours who also follow Tuks Law will have seen some of the tragic examples of animals needlessly euthanised by persons other than the owners, including shocking examples of neighbours presenting cats to a vet to be euthanised simply because they did not want the cats near their garden. Heartbreakingly, some vets have obliged. Tuks Law are fighting for what could potentially affect any of our cats at any time, so we urge our followers to stand with them too and fight. What they also fight for is rescue back up recognition. Rescue back up, or a dual registered microchip, is simply an additional safety net for the animal. Dual Registration helps extend available help in times of need by allowing someone to register alternative contact details on the database. Although the main registered keeper is the owner and first point of contact when the animal is scanned, the backup details will kick in should the owner's details be incorrect, meaning the animal will be given a second chance. Currently dual registered microchips are mostly used among the homeless' pets, and charities such as Street Vets have been able to register dogs to owners of no fixed abode and with no contact phone numbers, ultimately ensuring homeless people have been reunited with their beloved dogs when there would otherwise not have been any way for authorities to contact the owner. The team at Tuks Law have done absolutely amazing to get such important issues on the agenda. 2021 is looking very positive thanks to people coming together to fight for a common cause, which includes people just like you reading this who took the time to do things such as send your microchip reunion stories to be used as evidence in the microchip research, or took time to pop your signature on Tuks Laws petition.
Again we want to publicly thank Rehman Chishti M who is undeniably the reason both the microchipping, and potential scanning, legislation has been adopted by the Government. One MPs belief in raising cats' rights has ultimately led to what is about to become the turning point in history for cats.
Compulsory microchipping will undoubtedly save so many lives and see countless cats return home where they belong. Scanning is something very close to our hearts following some of our own personal experiences, but we note that mandatory scanning by councils ultimately relieves owners suffering. Us owners deserve to notified should the worst sadly happen, and we have a right to say goodbye properly and have that closure. Mandatory scanning by councils will allow us owners that, while Tuks Laws scanning by vets prior to euthanasia will save countless lives. Our focus remains on stopping the suffering and saving lives first and foremost, and this is why we will keep the champagne on ice for the time being, as fantastic as this achievment is. Although we believe in, and will continue to fight for councils to treat our cats with the dignity and respect they deserve, we are clear in that we don't want cats to be left in the road long enough for any council to come along and collect them in the first place. We want drivers to do all they can at the time of impact to ensure the cats stand the very best chance of survival. PetPlan figures show that 75% of hits are not fatal and those cats stand every chance of survival should they receive the help they need immediately.
While we are ecstatic the law is changing in 2021 for cats being microchipped, and things are going in the right direction and looking extremely positive when it comes to the scanning of cats too, we will fight on to achieve our ultimate goal of reportable road accidents. DEFRA have agreed to return to the issue with us following the successful implementation of the new microchip law, so 2021 will continue to see us work towards our ultimate goal of reportable road accidents.