A call by the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, for all donkey, horse and pony owners to microchip their animals ahead of an Autumn deadline has been backed by The Donkey Sanctuary.

From 1 October 2020 it will be mandatory for all equine owners to microchip their animals in England, so their details can be added to the Central Equine Database. The database will enable local authorities and the police to trace owners of abandon or stolen equines, while also helping to improve animal welfare standards.

Ensuring your donkeys are correctly identified is an important but often forgotten part of owning these special animals. Every year our welfare team supports hundreds of donkeys who find themselves in need of our help. Many of them are not identified correctly. For example, often we find either they don’t have an equine passport or microchip, or for those that do, the details don’t always match.

Microchipping is a quick, simple and relatively inexpensive way to ensure your donkey can be identified. If contact details are kept up to date, it is also a great tool to help ensure owners are reunited with their donkeys in the event they are lost or stolen. We also hope compulsory microchipping will help identify owners who abandon or neglect their equines.

In a recent government press release, Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “As we have seen with cats and dogs, mandatory microchipping is a hugely important step forward in the speedy identification of abandoned or stolen animals. Microchipping will not only help the police and local authorities, but also support the UK’s efforts to improve traceability and ensure we have better control over any disease outbreaks.”

All equine owners are legally required to ensure their animals’ details are kept up-to-date on the Central Equine Database. This can be accessed online via the Digital Stable and holds information on all donkeys, horses and ponies in England (and elsewhere in the UK).

If equine owners do not microchip their animals by October 2020 they could face sanctions from their local authority, including a fine.