EVERY dog in Scotland would be be fitted with microchips to clamp down on strays and irresponsible owners under new plans set out by Labour.
Last month it emerged every dog south of the border is to receive the digital tags by 2016 – similar plans are now being drafted in Scotland.
Animal charities have welcomed the decision to microchip pets and said it was the equivalent of a “21st Century dog collar”.
But the Scottish Government insist they have no plans to introduce the scheme because there is “no evidence” it actually works.
Labour announced their proposal at an event at a Dog’s Trust centre in West Calder, West Lothian on Tuesday.
Scottish Labour’s rural affairs spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “Microchipping has a number of advantages such as returning stray dogs, easy identification of those undertaking animal cruelty, ensuring the owners of dangerous dogs are held to account and a deterrent to dog theft.
“With close to 3,000 stray dogs per year in Scotland, micro-chipping can help reunite worried owners while saving local authorities money through reduced kennelling costs.”
Microchips are the size of a grain of rice and are implanted under the skin – usually between a dog’s shoulders.
The tag is given a unique number that can be read by a scanner but it does not have a GPS-style tracking system.
The Dogs Trust fit microchips for free at its bases in West Calder and Glasgow.
Laura Vallance from the Dogs Trust insisted it would improve accountability in cases of dog attacks and bad owners.
She said: “We’ve been pressing the Scottish Government to act on this issue, but there has been a bit of reluctance on their behalf.
“We think it’s a massive welfare issue – it embeds the principle of dog ownership, you can’t just dispose of the dog and lose your link to it.”
“It’s part of a package of measures and if a dog is deemed to be dangerous or out of control, then we have that link to it.”
The Scottish Government said microchipping is recommended in a code of practice published in 2010 and owners of dangerous or out-of-control dogs can be required to microchip their animals under the Control of Dogs Act 2010.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “To date we have received no evidence that compulsory microchipping would effectively tackle welfare issues such as abandonment, puppy farming or dog fighting.
“In addition, there are significant concerns surrounding the enforcement and cost, both to local authorities and to owners.
“We are watching developments elsewhere in the UK with interest and may consider the matter further in future.”