Lawful and responsible gundog owners in Northern Ireland are at risk of being hit in the pocket by a new tax, the UK’s largest shooting organisation has warned. Gundog owners in the province are being urged to lobby their MLAs in a bid to halt plans to introduce compulsory micro-chipping of dogs and an increase in the standard dog licence fee.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has voiced its objection to the planned Dogs (Amendment) Bill. The Bill would see the cost of the dog licence fee increase from £5 to £12.50 and make it compulsory for owners to have their dogs micro-chipped. It would also see the price of an annual block licence, for owners of three or more dogs, go up from £12.50 to £32. Owners will also have to pay around £20 to get their dogs micro-chipped and could also end up having to pay micro-chip companies to update their database if the dog ever changed ownership.
Tommy Mayne, from BASC Northern Ireland, said: "This is effectively a tax on lawful and responsible gundog owners and it will do nothing to address the issue of stray and abandoned dogs. What it will do is place an increased financial burden on our members, many of whom have several working dogs. Compulsory micro-chipping and dog licensing do not exist in the rest of the UK and we believe that irresponsible dog owners will continue to flout the law, leaving law-abiding dog owners to take the financial impact."
The deadline for written comments has now passed but MLAs on the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee will discuss the Bill after Stormont’s summer recess and report to the Minister for agriculture and rural development.
Gundog owners are being urged to lobby their MLAs on the two issues as soon as possible. For more information or to find out who your MLA is, contact BASC Northern Ireland on 028 9260 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.