BBC One’s Rip-Off Britain: Live finds the government’s pet micro-chipping system is failing to reunite lost dogs with their owners.
Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville return with a brand new series of Rip Off Britain: Live this week to uncover the truth behind your consumer problems.
The programme meets Georgie and Ed Bell from Roxburghshire, Scotland, who lost their beloved Border Terriers, Ruby and Beetle while out walking them just over a year ago. Having struggled to come to terms with that heartache, they say the government’s pet micro-chipping system has made things worse. This is because the databases appear to show Ruby and Beetle have been scanned, but the system does not insist that vets must contact the registered owners, so Georgie and Ed have no idea where the scans might have taken place.
Ed told Rip Off Britain: “If we could get some sort of location, at least then it would maybe answer a few questions and we could piece another piece of the jigsaw together to where they actually went on that day. You get your dogs microchipped because you think this is the magical tool that’s going to reunite you with your dog and it really hasn’t been the magical tool. It’s let us down.”
The pet micro-chipping system has come into criticism from other quarters too, including from the daughter of the late Sir Bruce Forsyth, Debbie Matthews, who lost her dog, Gizmo, in 2006. She now campaigns to make it easier for owners to track down their lost pets. She told Rip Off Britain: “We all assume that when we microchip our pets that there’s a safety net out there for us. If a stolen dog has been sold onto an unsuspecting owner, the owner doesn’t know the dog’s stolen and the vet doesn’t know the dog is stolen, unless they check the microchip registration and that’s where the system falls down.”
Currently, there are 13 separate databases recording dog micro-chips, and both Debbie and the British Veterinary Association agree the system needs to change to having just a single database. The British Veterinary Association agrees the system needs to change.
A Defra spokesperson said: “Every responsible dog owner wants to ensure their pet is safe and microchips are often the only hope of finding dogs that are lost or stolen .”Since compulsory microchipping for dogs came into force in 2016, we have seen a clear drop in the number of stray dogs on the streets and an increase in the number of lost or stolen pets reunited with their owners. We urge all dog owners to ensure that their dogs are microchipped and the details on their chip are up to date.”
Rip-off Britain: Live on BBC One at 9.15am weekdays from today, January 20th, through to Friday 24th January.