Under regulations brought into force in March of this year, all dogs over 12 weeks of age must be micro-chipped and registered on an approved database.

All dog owners have been reminded of these regulations by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The Minister also urged anyone thinking of giving a puppy or a dog as a Christmas present to buy or adopt from a reputable source.

As well as this, the Minister advised people to fully consider the significant commitment, including financial aspects, that becoming a pet owner represents.

The micro-chipping regulations impose obligations on both buyers and sellers, according to Minister Creed.

“I understand this is a significant change in the way people are accustomed to buying and dealing in animals.

However, these rules are vital to enable early reunification of lost dogs with owners, protect the welfare of dogs and to protect animals against sheep worrying.

He also reminded parents thinking of buying a dog as a pet for Christmas to give careful consideration to the future care of the animal.

“A number of animal welfare groups have recommended that people do not buy puppies as Christmas presents at all.

“However, if you are going to do so, please buy or adopt from a reputable source.

A reputable dog breeder will have ensured that pups they sell are correctly micro-chipped and vaccinated and have the right paperwork.

These procedures provide reassurance that the dog has probably been raised in the proper conditions, he said.

There are a total of four authorised databases where dogs can be registered, Animark, Fido, The Irish Coursing Club and The Irish Kennel Club, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, the authorised database must provide a certificate which indicates the owner of the dog and provides a form for changes of ownership to be registered.

As well as that, buyers and sellers are also required to indicate that they have verified the identity of the person they are dealing with.

“If details are not correctly kept up to date, you will remain legally responsible for a dog you may have sold. This will encourage people to ensure registered details are up to date,” Minister Creed said.