All dogs in England must be microchipped by April 6, 2016, or their owners will face a fine of up to $800, according to a new law.

Britain’s Environment Department is mandating microchipping to help reunite owners with pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible ownership.

Stray animals currently cost British taxpayers and charities nearly $80 million a year.

"It's a shame that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down," Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said in a statement. "Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners."

About 60 percent of Britain’s 8 million pets — including dogs, cats and rabbits — already have microchips, which can be scanned and matched to their owners’ details.

Microchips will remain optional for cats because they generally spend less time outdoors, according to an Environment Department spokeswoman. Horse owners have had to chip their animals since 2009.

Dogs Trust, the U.K.’s largest dog welfare charity, is offering free micrcoships to all dogs at all of its 18 locations.

Learn more about Britain’s new microchipping law in the video below.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Dogs in England must be microchipped by 2016
The Environment Department hopes the new law will help reunite owners with pets, relieve the burden on charities and promote responsible ownership.