Free microchipping is being offered to anyone who takes part in East Northants Council’s 5000 Paws dog walking challenge.
A new law which makes it mandatory for owners to microchip their four-legged friends comes into force on April 6.
Dog owners can visit Stanwick Lakes on Tuesday, March 29, or Barnwell Country Park on Thursday, March 31, from 11am to 3pm, to take their pet on a healthy long walk and complete the 5000 Paws Challenge.
Once people have clocked up 5,000 steps on a free pedometer and signed up to the council’s free Green Dog Club, they will receive a voucher for their pooch to be microchipped – either on the day by Wood Green Animal Shelter or by appointment at Rushden Veterinary Surgery or Oundle Veterinary Surgery.
Owners who fail to microchip their pets after April 6 will be guilty of a criminal offence and could face a fine of £500.
Council leader Steven North said: “This legislation could save local authorities and charities millions of pounds each year and microchipping saves a lot of heartache by helping owners be reunited with lost pets faster.
“In fact, microchipping technology helped our dog warden reunite 11 lost dogs with their owners in 2015.”
The council’s dog warden, Julia Wills, added: “The 5000 Paws Challenge was organised to help our residents be responsible dog owners and get out and about with their best friend.
“Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to banish the winter blues and join us and Wood Green Animal Shelter for a fun-filled day in our lovely parks.”
Wood Green Animal Shelter will be on hand to offer microchipping, expert advice and fun activities for all the family.
Carla Leete, community engagement officer at Wood Green, said: “We’re delighted to be working with ENC on this initiative to encourage responsible pet ownership.
“On 6 April, it will be law that all dogs must be microchipped, so this event has come at the best time for those who still haven’t gotten around to microchipping their dogs.
“Each year, Wood Green sees around 450 stray dogs.
“On average, less than 40 per cent are microchipped, and over half do not make it home to their owners.
“Why take that risk with your beloved pet?
“The day is also for those who have already microchipped their dogs and want to take part in something fun together with their pooch.
“Walking and training with your dog not only provides your pet with what they need every day to be happy, it strengthens the bond and helps build a better relationship between you and your pet.
“We will be there on the day with microchipping, fun games and activities for children and the wonderfully fun ‘School for Dogs’.
“Can your dog pass with flying colours?”
To find out more about the challenge, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01832 742068.
For more information about the council’s dog warden service, visit www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/dogs
If your dog is already chipped, people are asked to make sure their contact details are correct on the database.
It is vital that the national database is kept up-to-date, so remember to let your company know if you move address or change telephone number.