Dog owners have been urged to get their pets microchipped because less than a quarter have been tagged so far. The Agriculture and Fisheries Department said in the year since microchipping became mandatory only about 30,000 dogs had been tagged. Senior veterinarian Dr Les Sims said the figure was less than the department's target of a third of Hong Kong's estimated 120,000 pet dog population. The figure excludes strays. 'We wanted to have about a third of the dog population microchipped so this figure is probably a bit low,' Dr Sims said. 'Lots of factors come into it but essentially we need to do more publicity, make people aware they must get their dogs chipped as we will start doing more random checks.' He said the chips helped reunite about 30 strays with their owners during the year. The rice grain-sized chip, inserted in the back of the neck by needle, contains data on the dog's owners and its vaccination history. Nelson Lam, of the Hong Kong Kennel Club, said he believed some owners were reluctant to get their dogs chipped because of concerns over possible side-effects or pain for the animal. 'But we have since seen there is no real discomfort to the dogs and this should be publicised and we should get all dogs chipped,' Mr Lam said. SPCA deputy executive director Dr Cynthia Smillie said the number of owners bringing their dogs in for chipping fell throughout the year. 'We started off very well with 586 dogs brought to us for chipping [at the beginning of last year] but that dropped to just 313 by September,' she said. Dr Smillie said paperwork and procedures should also be streamlined because some simple tasks, such as changing ownership, were 'a bit of a headache'.