"Belated" microchip plan to reduce dog attacks wins postal workers' backing
Although the postal workers' union has welcomed plans for the compulsory microchipping of dogs
in England, it says thousands have been injured while the government "dragged its feet".
At time of writing an announcement is expected from ministers that all newborn pups should be microchipped to make finding and prosecuting the owners of aggressive dogs easier.
The general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU)
, Billy Hayes, welcomed more protection for innocent victims of dog attacks
and hoped the new laws would improve the "failed" Dangerous Dogs Act of 1994.
"Thousands of postal workers and telecom engineers, along with other workers who go on to private property and parents of small children, will sigh in relief at this announcement."
The CWU estimates that over 23,000 postal workers
have been victims of dog attacks over the past 4 years, with some 400 signing off sick
after an attack within the past year.
According to the union, over 10,000 people have signed an e-petition
backing changes to the law, which will oblige millions of dog owners to fit microchips confirming lawful pet ownership.
Each chip, which will be fitted at the owner's expense and features a unique number, will be implanted into the loose skin between a dog's shoulder blades. The information will be placed on a central database
accessible by the RSPCA and the police.
Under further proposed changes to the law, dog owners are also more likely to face legal action
if their pet attacks someone in their homes.
The CWU said that because 70% of dog attacks on postal workers have occurred on private property where the current law is invalid, its members have effectively been treated as "criminal trespassers".
"The same goes for gas, water and electricity workers, district nurses, home helps, health visitors, care workers and even meals on wheels volunteers, who are all left utterly unprotected by the law
because of this weakness in legislation," a union spokesman said.
The Freedom Association, which campaigns for individual liberty, claimed the change to the law would penalise law-abiding dog owners.
The group said on its website: "Each dog owner may have to shell out £35 for the microchip. Effectively, this would mean owners having to pay for the privilege of not being trusted."
Northern Ireland recently became the first part of the UK to introduce a microchipping law. While the Welsh assembly will consult on plans for compulsory microchipping later this year, there are presently no plans for Scotland to do the same.