A RACE against time to get every dog in Oxfordshire microchipped ahead of new legislation in April has begun.

From Wednesday, April 6, owners whose dogs have not had the procedure could be fined £500 under the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015.

Animal welfare charity Blue Cross has warned that 70 per cent of dogs admitted to its Burford and Lewknor rehoming centres in 2015 were not chipped.

Lewknor centre worker Adam Moss explained this can make it impossible to reunite a beloved missing pet with their heartbroken family.

He said: "While we never know how a pet has become a stray, we see many who are in good health and are really friendly towards people.

"It suggests many are pets who could be being missed by devastated families. Some have even been trained, which means they must have been owned before they came to us. "Without a microchip it is sadly impossible for us to trace their owners and get them home. Getting your pet chipped is the best way of being reunited.

"It’s also really important to keep your contact details registered to the microchip up to date should you move house or change phone numbers.”

Out of all the 2,420 dogs admitted to Blue Cross centres in 2015, a total of 1,694 did not have a microchip.

RSPCA Oxfordshire is running a series of microchipping events in the county with more planned Banbury, Witney, Didcot, Banbury and Bicester.

Branch treasurer Graeme Larkin said he believed 30 to 40 per cent of owners in Oxfordshire still need to get their dogs microchipped, which costs about £30 with a vet.

But added: "It's a no-brainer: responsible owners with a dog that's part of the family look after its welfare. Most charities are microchipping free of charge."

He said owners in Oxfordshire also urgently needed to keep their details up-to-date: "One of the biggest frustrations we have with microchipped animals is people change their mobile numbers or move address and the last thing they think about is updating the information on the microchip, and we can't match a dog with their owner."

Larkmead Vets in Sutton Courtenay is encouraging people through the doors with a 25 per cent discount - bringing the cost down to £16.42 - in the countdown to April 6.

Receptionist Natalie McKirman said: "We've had a lot of people coming in having it done. It's much more people than normal, even those with older dogs."