In Antigua & Barbuda, every owner of a dog of licensing age is required to present the dog to be registered and micro-chipped within six months of the coming into force of the Act. (Dogs Registration & Control Act, 2006 Section 14). The Act came into force in September 2006.
Newly acquired dogs of licensing age or any dog which attains licensing age must be registered within 10 days of such acquisition or attainment of licensing age. (Section 15)
“Licensing age” is defined in the Act as: the age when a dog has attained the age of six months and over or upon eruption of the permanent canines, as the case may be.
Simply stated, all dogs over the age of six months must be micro-chipped and registered within 10 days of acquiring them or of their reaching the age of six months. If necessary, age can be determined by a veterinarian or by a dog control officer through examination of the dog’s teeth.
The microchip used by the Dog Registration & Control Authority (DRCA) is an encoded identification device that contains a unique code that facilitates access to owner information, which is stored in a central database. The microchip used by the DRCA is an ISO microchip, that is, it meets the requirements of the International Organization for Standardization. The microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice and comes in a sterile syringe. It is implanted beneath the skin between the dog’s shoulders. This simple, painless procedure is very similar to giving the dog a vaccination.
At the time of micro-chipping a registration form is completed with contact details for the owner, licence tag number of the dog and other information such as whether or not the dog has been spayed or neutered. This information is entered into the DRCA’s database. When a micro-chipped animal is scanned with a special reader, a unique identification number is displayed and the details of ownership can be accessed from the database. Unlike other forms of identification such as tags, which can be lost or removed, and tattoos, which can be removed or altered, the microchip is permanent and will stay in place for the life of the animal.
In the case of a dog that has been imported into Antigua and has already been micro-chipped in its country of origin, it is not necessary to microchip the dog again as long as the DRCA’s scanners can read the microchip. However, the dog must still be registered with the DRCA.
Benefits of the microchip
(a) To the community: Dogs need to be identified in order to establish ownership and responsibility. For instance, if a dog’s owner does not control the dog and it attacks livestock or passersby, the owner must be held responsible for the dog’s actions. The microchip makes identification of the owner possible.
(b) To the dog owner: There are many situations in which it is advantageous to have the dog micro-chipped, beyond obeying the law. Dogs have been known to get out of even well-fenced yards – someone accidentally leaves a gate open; a section of the fence blows down in a heavy storm; the dog startles because of fireworks and scales the fence; a bitch in heat passes by and over he goes; or perhaps the dog is stolen. The presence of a microchip can be the dog’s ticket home.
Every dog found at large or impounded by dog control officers is scanned to see if it has been micro-chipped. If it has, it can be quickly reunited with its owner because of the information stored in the DRCA database.
Registration & micro-chipping locations
To make it as convenient as possible for dog owners, the DRCA has organised several locations for micro-chipping and registration (call for an appointment). These are: The Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society, Delaps, Bethesda 461-4957; The Ark Veterinary Clinic, Collins Lane 460-8552; Pioneer Kennels & Veterinary Clinic, Bath Lodge, Bendals Main Road 463-6794; and Veterinary Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Friar’s Hill Road 562-1814 or 460-1759.
In addition, dog control officers will come to your home. To contact the DRCA and make arrangements for a home visit, call 562-7277.