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Compulsory doggy microchipping comes into force in the UK

Dog owners should paws to read this: The law now requires all mutts to be microchipped.

No need for the puppy eyes, little guy -- being microchipped is totally painless.
Richard Bailey/Corbis

All of the UK's pooches are getting chips -- and we're not talking about a new type of doggy treat.

As of Wednesday, all dogs from the age of eight weeks on must be microchipped by law. Behind the legislation is the hope that more stray and lost dogs in future will be able to be reunited with their owners.

If police find dogs that do not have microchips, they will give owners a short period of time to ensure they get them injected with the chips, which are the size of a grain of rice. Owners of pups who still do not comply with the law may be fined up to £500.

Every year, more than 102,000 dogs are picked up on British streets having been lost or stolen, which costs charities and local authorities an estimated $33 million. Enforced microchipping of dogs will hopefully reduce the number of strays, discourage irresponsible ownership and save councils money on providing kennel accommodation for unclaimed dogs.

Northern Ireland, where such a law is already in place, has seen a decrease in the number of stray, lost and abandoned pooches, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The majority of British dog owners, 86 percent in total, already have their pets microchipped and their details registered on a national database, which makes it easy to return them if they wander too far from home.

Animal welfare charity Dogs Trust said it had 1,395 enquiries -- a record number -- about microchipping before the law came into force. The charity is offering free microchipping by appointment at all of its rehoming centres and has seen many people take advantage of the opportunity.

"They're doing so not just because it will then become a legal requirement but because they now see it as the best means by which to be reunited with their dog should it be lost or stolen," said Alex Jackson, the charity's head of campaigns. "Dogs Trust has long campaigned for this change in the law and we are thrilled that we have been able to help thousands of people across the UK get their dogs chipped."