OWNING a dog will come with even more responsibility this year with the arrival of new government legislation that will fine owners up to £500 if their dog is not microchipped.

Strict new laws due to be introduced in April will see owners failing to do so face the hefty fine.

The new rules have been broadly welcomed by animal welfare charities.

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

However, in further research last month it was revealed 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 go or were simply unaware that it should be done.

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

Breeders must microchip their puppies by eight weeks old and before they are transferred to a new keeper, who will be responsible for then updating the animal with their own details.

The new law was welcomed by Jessie Bascombe from charity SNDogs who said it was good news, but is worried about how the law would be implemented.

She said: “I definitely think that it is a good idea, but I wonder how they are going to keep an eye on it, and I worry that there hasn’t been enough information on this yet.

“When you rehome it is up to the old owner to change the details on the microchip to the new owner’s name – like you would do with a car logbook. But at the moment I don’t think there is enough information out there for the public to know why they have to do it and what it means to them.”

Adrian Burder, chief executive of Dogs Trust, said: “Losing a dog is an 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, visit bluecross.org.uk for more details.