Yesterday as well as the adoption of Driver (now Cooper), no fewer than three dogs found their owners thanks to their micro-chips. So today I thought I would explain a bit about the identification of dogs in France. The rules here are very different to those in the UK. Many of you will be aware of this, as you travel regularly with your dogs, but repetition is the mother of learning!
For a start, in France, identification is a legal obligation for all dogs born after 6th January 1999 (and let’s face it, that is most dogs, as 14 is quite elderly!) In addition it is illegal to sell or even give away unidentified dogs, and in theory this is punishable by a pretty hefty fine, so people giving away puppies “free to a good home” are in fact breaking the law.
The most common form of identification is the microchip, which is usually implanted in a dog’s shoulder, and can be read by a special gadget. So if you find a dog, any vet or a SPA will be able to see if he is identified. If he is, the theory is as follows:
All microchips are registered with the SCC (Societe Centrale Canine) in Paris, also known as I-CAD. When a dog is found, the chip number can be matched with this database, and lo and behold, the dog’s owner’s name and address is revealed. Again, very much in theory, the vet or the SPA calls the person who immediately rushes to collect their dog. Et voila!
Things are seldom that simple, however. People move house and forget to update their details at the SCC. This means that we at the SPA have no way of contacting people, although we move heaven and earth to do so. This is thanks to the Internet, Yellow Pages, and various volunteers with lots of time and patience.
If we are still unable to track down the owners of a dog, then after 10 days he is available for adoption. At this time, the dog officially becomes the property of the SPA, and the details of the dog’s new owners will never ever be told to the old owners, should they subsequently show up.
If a dog arrives at the SPA with no microchip, then we still try to find his owners, but obviously it is more tricky! If they come along and can prove that the dog is theirs (vaccination records or photographs or just immediate recognition by the dog!), we chip the dog in their name, which is a legal requirement before the dog can leave the SPA and for which they pay the vet directly, and off they go However if no one comes to claim the dog within 10 days, the dog is up for grabs and again we will chip the dog in the name of the refuge and then this will be changed at the SCC in Paris once the dog is adopted. This usually takes a couple of months, but can be longer, depending on the backlog in Paris. The backlog used to be our fault, but the hyper-efficient Carole has it down to a fine art, now!
In the interim, if a SPA dog is found, it is us who will be contacted, but we know who has adopted our dogs, so we will call the new owners directly so that they can be reunited with their missing mutt!
Some dogs (particularly hunt dogs) are tattooed, and this has both positive and negative sides. If a dog is found with a tattoo in its ear, you know for sure that he has (or had) an owner; Which is great. A vet or an SPA can access the owners via the Paris database. On the negative side, any dog wishing to travel out of France requires a passport, and passports are only issued to dogs with microchips.
I have four dogs, the girls are tattooed (because I had it done the same time as they were being sterilised) and the boys are both micro-chipped. But each of them has a collar with an identification disc on it. This way, anyone finding them can call me straight away, without the need to go to someone with access to the database!
I would recommend a collar with a phone number on it to everyone, even if your dogs are like mine and never stray. Simple but effective!
I haven’t mentioned cats, as this is DOG rescue Carcassonne, but the same rules apply. It is still illegal to give away unidentified kittens for free. For cats, however, identification has only been obligatory since Jan 1st 2012, so there are plenty of unidentified moggies around. At the SPA most of our cats are tattooed, as this is done while they are being sterilised or castrated. And in the case of cats, in my opinion a tattoo is preferable, as people are sadly far less likely to take a lost-looking cat to the vet to see if it is identified!
I hope this information is useful and that it helps reunite you with your lost pets in the future. If you have a chipped dog or cat, make sure your details are up to date in Paris (your vet can help) and for those of you who travel, you can have two numbers on the paperwork, so even if you are at your “other home”, you can be contacted by phone!
Basile reclaimed thanks to his micro-chip yesterday