To their owners, pets are cherished members of the family and I understand that their disappearance and deaths can cause a lot of distress.
I am pleased that microchipping for dogs became compulsory for animals over eight weeks of age across England, Scotland and Wales in 2016. One year after the Government introduced this policy, the Dogs Trust reported a reduction of 18 per cent in the total stray dog population. In 2016, UK local authorities collected 81,000 strays, while in 2018 this fell to 56,000.
I am pleased that the Government is committed to improving the welfare of cats and has a manifesto commitment to introduce compulsory microchipping of cats. Last year, Defra published a call for evidence on compulsory microchipping for cats, which attracted over 3,000 responses. I am aware that the responses are now being assessed, with a view to publishing the summary of these in due course. In the meantime, I would encourage all cat owners to make the sensible choice to microchip their felines, ensuring relevant records are kept up to date.