I absolutely accept my hon. Friend’s point. Another point that we should make, however, is that there are considerable limitations on the amount of resources local authorities can use for these purposes.
In Wales, compulsory microchipping is being introduced for dogs from March 2015 and I believe that the same regulations will apply in England in 2016. If we made it compulsory to microchip pups within the first few weeks of their lives, if anything happened to those pups they could be traced back to where they were bred and action could be taken against any breeders who were found to be operating in conditions that were not suitable for those pups. Any pups showing signs of malnutrition or disease could be traced to their place of birth.
I recently attended an event held by the Dogs Trust in the Royal Welsh agricultural show site in Llanelwedd in my constituency, where there was a massive dog show attracting dogs from around the country. The Dogs Trust made the point that microchipping can be done at no cost and I think that, before it becomes compulsory, all responsible dog owners should have their dogs microchipped.
Buying a pup is a very serious business that should not be undertaken lightly. If someone buys a horse, for instance, they employ a vet to examine the animal and ensure that it is fit and healthy. It would be very good if that were replicated during the purchasing of puppies and kittens. I do not want to make pet ownership too over-burdened with regulation and bureaucracy, but, nevertheless, people should be educated about the responsibilities of making such purchases. Pets are very demanding in terms of the time that is necessary to look after them properly, and feeding them and maintaining their health through veterinary care is very expensive. I get a lot of letters from constituents who are very concerned about the costs of veterinary treatment. Tightening up the regulation on the breeding and sale of puppies and kittens is very important and I support that, but I also commend the work that charities do in emphasising the importance of taking decisions on pet ownership very seriously.