AS Hampshire pet owners welcome in the New Year, one of the biggest shake-ups is set to transform dog ownership in the next few months.

Strict new laws introduced in April will make it compulsory for all dogs in England to be microchipped.

Owners failing to do so could be fined as part of the new rules, which have been broadly welcomed by animal welfare charities.

According to a Dog’s Trust survey in 2014, modern technologies like microchipping accounted for more than 10,000 dogs being reunited with their owners that year and it says that figure is growing.

However, its research last month found one in five owners are still unprepared for the upcoming legal change.

It also found that 45 per cent of them had not chipped their dogs, either because they didn’t know how or where to do so or simply did not know they had to.

All dogs must be chipped and registered with a recognised database by April 6.

From then on, if an animal is not microchipped its owners could face a fine of up to £500.

All breeders must microchip their puppies by eight-weeks-old and before they are transferred to a new keeper, who will be responsible for updating it with their details.

Elena Cavazza, Operational Supervisor at the Southampton Blue Cross rehoming centre in West End, welcomed the new rules and encouraged owners to get their animals microchipped.

She said: “We take in hundreds of lost and homeless pets every year.

“Sadly many of the animals that come through our doors aren’t microchipped or have out-of-date contact details registered to their chip, meaning it’s almost impossible to find their owners.”

Adrian Burder, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, said: “Losing a dog is upsetting time for both dog and dog owner so we welcome the new legislation."

“We’re still working tirelessly to ensure even more dogs are given these painless but essential pieces of technology before April.”

Dr Samantha Gaines, of the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said the new law was a step in the right direction. which would help re-unite stray or lost dogs with their owners more quickly. But she said the critical issue was ensuring people keep their details up to date.

“This has been a real challenge in the past and we remain to be convinced this will improve significantly,” she said.

The Blue Cross offers a free microchipping service for cats and dogs. Call the centre on 0300 777 1530 or visit