Speaking in the House of Lords last week, environment minister Lord Taylor said that the Government was close to finalising measures to tackle irresponsible dog owners, and that a final announcement would be made soon.

He said: ?We see microchipping as one of the measures we can take to address an increasing problem.?

More than half of all dogs in the UK are already microchipped on a voluntary basis, and the Government hopes that introducing a compulsory system will also prevent puppy farming, and cut the cost of caring for and rehoming strays.

Lord Taylor concluded: ?I have clearly flagged up the possibility of an expansion of microchipping, and we are working with everybody to make sure that this will happen.?

If compulsory microchipping is introduced, it would be a move supported by organisations including the RSPCA and the Kennel Club (KC).

Shooting Times gundog expert and KC committee member Paul Rawlings said he was sure that such a strategy would have a ?hugely beneficial effect?, but he stressed that all dogs must be included in the scheme if it was to prove effective.

He said: ?Obviously there is a huge community of unregistered dogs out there, such as lurchers and night dogs that are used for poaching. Perhaps this will give the police some power to do something about them if they find them.?

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