Councils could be forced to scan dead cats killed on the road for a microchip, instead of throwing the bodies in with rubbish.
Supporters of a bill in Parliament say it would save thousands of owners the heartache of not knowing what happened to their beloved missing pet.
Drivers are not obliged to report running over a cat, and council roadsweepers do not have to check for a microchip containing the owner’s details before disposing of the body.
Many councils do scan for microchips to inform owners, but itis not a legal obligation.
A private member’s bill introducing compulsory scanning is due to have its second reading on 29 January. The Pets (Microchips) Bill, introduced by MP James Daly, would also make it compulsory for vets to scan dogs for chips before putting them down.
It follows a campaign called Tuk’s Law, named after a rescue dog that was put down aged just 16 months after being rehomed, and a petition that drew more than 100,000 signatures.
Private members’ bills rarely become law unless the government picks one up and guarantees it time.
But Helena Abrahams, who has been battling for four years for a new law on cat scanning, appealed to MPs to make it a priority.
Her campaign, Gizmo’s Legacy, began after her 15-year-old cat was disposed of without being scanned.
“All MPs need to back James Daly when he fights for Gizmo’s Law in Parliament and stop this atrocity and the heartache it causes owners,” she said.
A pet food company backing the campaign has pledged to donate scanners to any council that does not have one.
Mr Daly told the Commons: “Unless we act to make it mandatory for vets to check microchips, I am deeply concerned, taking into account the coronavirus pandemic, that we could see a steep increase in healthy dogs being put to sleep across Britain in the next 12 months.”
A government petition last year stated: “Thousands of cats are just disposed of every year without being scanned for a chip after being involved in RTAs [road traffic accidents]. Owners search for months and years and never get closure. Scanning takes two minutes. Cats are a part of a family and deserve to be returned home, not thrown into landfill.”
Mr Daly added: “We should not allow deceased cats to simply be treated as rubbish, their bodies disposed of without a thought for their owners. This is not acceptable. Through this bill, Gizmo’s law ensures remains are treated with respect and reflects that cats are much loved pets and companions for millions of people.”
The government says it encourages microchipping of cats and it is “established good practice” for councils and the Highways Agency to scan pets found on the streets.