Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dogs (Amendment) Bill

The compulsory microchipping of dogs is one of the changes proposed in the Dogs (Amendment) Bill which reached its consideration stage, on January 18 2011.

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew explained that the bill was designed to update the provisions of the Dogs Order of 1983. She said that particular piece of legislation had been ahead of its time, setting up a network of dog wardens and introducing fixed penalty fines for owners.

The new bill would allow for an increase in fixed penalties up to £75, money which could be retained by the councils to help fund the dog warden service.

Agriculture committee chairperson Stephen Moutray of the DUP said most of the discussion in committee had centred on the proposed compulsory microchipping. He said it would help reduce the disgraceful number of dogs euthanised in Northern Ireland each year.

Willie Clarke from Sinn Fein said the bill transferred a huge responsibility on local councils and the increase in fixed penalties would help offset the increased costs.

The UUP's Roy Beggs said microchipping was a good long-term method as tags could drop off the animal.

The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry said the figures for the destruction of dogs were much higher in Northern Ireland than in other parts of the UK. He added that dog ownership should be seen as a privilege rather than a right.

A second set of amendments proposed introducing a fine of £2,500 for anyone who sets a dog on livestock or a domestic animal.

All amendments were passed on an oral vote and the bill completed the consideration stage.

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