DOG owners in Scotland could be forced to microchip their dogs under new government plans.
A government official has confirmed that a consultation will be held on whether to enforce mandatory micro-chipping for all dogs in the country.
Dog chipping is already compulsory in Northern Ireland, with Wales set to follow suit in 2015 and England planning to introduce it in 2016.
Scottish ministers have been under pressure to follow the example of other nations to help tackle the large number of strays found in the county each year.
Around 3,000 stray dogs are found in Scotland per year, with many being put down or having to be kennelled at the public expense as it is often impossible to trace their owners.
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Dogs Trust suggested that 82% of Scottish adults think microchipping should be mandatory for all dogs in Scotland.
9% disagreed with this, and a further 9% said they were unsure.
In April, the Scottish government said that there were no plans to introduce mandatory micro-chipping, but rural affairs minister, Richard Lochhead has confirmed a U-turn on the governments previous plans.
He said: “I recently met with the Dogs Trust and confirmed that the Scottish government would be consulting on the issue of compulsory microchipping soon.
“The issues related to enforcement, financial support and database operation may be covered in the consulation.”
Micro-chipping was introduced in the UK in 1989.
For a cost of around £30, a small electronic device is implanted between the animals shoulder blades.
This is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner.
While microchipping is most commonly promoted to help reunite owners with their lost pets, they can also be used to identify people who commit animal cruelty and as a deterrent to dog theft.
Owners of dangerous or out of control dogs can currently be required to microchip their pets under the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.