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The Microchip - a safe, reliable, unique and
tamper-proof way of identifying your pet
The need to identify our pets has always been felt and various methods have been adopted. Collars with name tags can get lost or removed by people with bad intentions. They can also be dangerous in cats. Tattooes are painful to apply and very difficult to read. This method has been superceeded with the advent of the micro-chip.
The practice of microchipping pets is encouraged as it may help reuniting a lost animal with its owner, and at the same time reducing the number of dogs and cats that end up in sanctuaries. Whenever a lost pet is found it must be taken to a veterinarian to check if a microchip has been implanted. If this is the case the owner of the animal will be contacted.
The microchip is obligatory in all dogs living in Malta and in order to issue pet passports. The micro-chip can also be used in conjunction with certain gadgets such as cat flaps that open only for your cat.
What is a micro-chip?
A microchip is a transponder that contains a unique 15-digit number encoded in its circuitry. It is coated in a silicon capsule that causes no harm when inserted in the body of the animal. The microchip is normally injected under the skin in a standard location, such as between the shoulder blades. No anaesthesia or sedation is required. In order to read the micro-chip number a micro-chip reader must be used.
A micro-chip does not contain a battery and cannot communicate with satellites or any other device that indicates the location of the animal. It is merely a way of assigning a unique number to that animal just like an ID-card. The microchip by itself is absolutely useless unless linked to a database that contains all the relevant information such as the contact details of the animal's owner. It is very important that animal owners who have micro-chipped their pets ensure that the relevant information is stored in the database is correct and that it is updated when necessary.
Legally required for dogs
As from May 2012 all dogs over the age of four months must be microchipped and registered with the Malta Veterinary Services. The microchip must be implanted by a warranted veterinarian who will also register the details of dog and owner in the Malta Livestock National Database. This will automatically serve as a licence, and a document will be sent to the residence of the dog owner by post. All puppies must be microchipped by the time they are four months of age. This is easily determined by a veterinarian by the erupting of certain permanent teeth. Owners with unmicrochipped dogs may incur heavy fines.
The fees for licensing, microchipping and registration are fixed by local legislation. Neutered dogs have subsidised microchipping, registration and licensing fees.
For further information refer to the legal notice.
Malta PetNet database
The Malta Veterinary Association voluntarily introduced microchipping in Malta as from 2001. In conjuction with this the MVA created the Malta Pet Net database so that all microchipped animals can be registered and readily traced. The database is an online system enabling all data to be inputted directly by veterinarians and certificates to be printed and issued from clinics. Moreover, veterinarians have read-only access to the data 24/7 and this reduces the time needed to trace owners of lost dogs. Owners whose pets are registered in the Malta Pet Net database can also check the details of their pets online from the Malta Veterinary Association's website: www.mva.org.mt.