Frequently Asked Questions

My dog is chipped. Why do I need LAB+BONE?

The legal requirement for chipping dogs was introduced after a spate of dog attacks in the 1990s with the purpose to allow the police to determine the owner of a rogue dog. While vets find chips a convenient way to look up a dogs records the entire legal structure is designed to connect owners to a dog and has no legally enforcable mechanism the other way around.

A new chip and insertion syringe can be bought on eBay for less than £2 and a dog can have a new identity in minutes. This is contradicting evidence and can harm your case if you try to rely on it.

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My dog is DNA tested. Why do I need LAB+BONE?

DNA comprises of billions of individual components and reading them all is possible, but very expensive. Commercial labs therefore use a standard targeted profile that quantifies 28 specify traits such as breed, colour, coat and relatives. These traits have been chosen as it is what breeders are interested in but they don't serve to uniquely identify the dog. They are not much better than a verbal description of the dog from a multiple choice where you cannot describe unique features.

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The police seem to do nothing. How does LAB+BONE help?

Law enforcement has limited resources and therefore naturally focus on crimes most likely to lead to a conviction. Due to the weakness of in current identification of dogs, even if the police know the perpetrators there is certainly insufficient proof to get a warrant, let alone a conviction.

LAB+BONE is finally the solution the police need to make it worth focussing on these crimes.

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How many dogs are stolen each year?

On average, almost 50 dogs a week are reported as stolen to the UK Police. Dog theft has skyrocketed during the Covid pandemic, in 2020 it was already up 170% over the previous year.

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What is the latest evidence required to confirm your dog’s identity?

The International society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) requires 230 Single-nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) as a standard for identification. Standard dog DNA test are focused on determining common traits (breed, colour etc) and measure 18 Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) each comprising of around 4 SNPs. The full DNA of any dog has around 1 billion SNPs, and while standard test can differentiate two random dogs they fall far short of the mark of differentiating between two similar dogs.

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What happens if my dog is stolen?

We understand it will be an incredibly worrying situation so here are some first steps.

  • Contact the police, don't expect them to be able to actively help but let them know you have full DNA evidence and more importantly obtain a crime reference number as you will need it later.
  • Contact LAB+BONE. We will need the Crime Reference Number and will verify your samples and send one to our lab for basic profiling.
  • There is constructive advice to be found on Battersea, RSPCA, DogLost, among others on getting the news out there. What will be key to your search is to let them know LAB+BONE hold your dog’s DNA for this very reason.
  • When a potential match is found then contact LAB+BONE and we will send test packs to confirm an initial match
  • When a positive DNA match is made, you as the owner can prove ownership using forensic evidence to legally reclaim their pet
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How do you police the discount for mature dogs for your Lifetime product

We believe our owners are honest and some might not even know the age of their dog. However if you need to claim and it becomes obvious that the dog was under 6 when the protection was bought it could harm your entitlements.

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Is there a discount available for individuals or organisations with multiple dogs?

Yes, with open arms we welcome breeders who are expecting their first litter, or are experienced with best practices. Knowing your litter will move to a new owner with the confidence of LAB+BONE is where we can help. It will benefit you as the breeder. Please contact us directly on [email protected] to discuss how easily this can all take place.

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Can I buy a subscription for a friend?

You can buy anyone a redeemable gift voucher. Its value will depend on the plan taken. Please get in touch at [email protected] with any questions.

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What is DNA?

Every cell inside your dog contains a unique set of genetic instructions on how to grow and function. This is known as DNA and contains around 1 billion instructions in every cell.

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Why is LAB+BONE the only company using cryogenic storage?

Other companies sample a portion of the DNA for a set of traits and only keep that summary. Our goal is to preserve the entire DNA of your dog, not just a summary; that’s about 50 million times more data than our competitors.

We have taken advice from the UK’s leading Forensic expert Dr Rob Ogden. Rob is one of the country’s few expert eyewitnesses in the court of law. Forensically, Cryogenic freezing is the best-known method to fully preserve DNA without decay or damage to DNA. It provides unequivocal evidence of identification. It keeps your dog’s full identity fresh, and available for future use “if and when” the need arises.

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Can I take the sample myself?

We have provided clear instructions that explains what is required to gather a suitable sample. If there is any doubt get in touch with us at [email protected] If there is any doubt in your mind, remember your vet is a professional and is always on hand to help collect a sample.

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Can the Vet take the DNA samples for me?

Of course. Vets are the trusted advisor; the knowledgeable​ animal doctor​. They can certainly assist you on swab DNA collection.

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How do I collect DNA samples?

It should only take a few minutes. To avoid sample contamination please wash your hands and ensure your dog has not eaten, licked, or played with other dogs or toys for two hours prior to sampling. A familiar person can prove a useful helper while collecting the sample by holding your dog’s head steady.

  • Open the swab packaging at the handle end. Remove the swab, without touching the collection tip.
  • Open your dog’s mouth and firmly scrape the cheek and gum for 15 seconds. To ensure you’ve collected enough cells it helps to roll the tip while you swab back and forth.
  • After collecting the sample, place the swab into the vial and snap the handle at the indicated break point. Seal the end cap of the vial firmly to secure the sample.
  • Place the vial back in the box and repeat steps 1 to 3 using the second swab and vial. Then mail them to us in this.
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Why do you need to store two samples of my dogs DNA?

We store 2 samples of your dogs DNA because if your dog is lost, we will analyse one sample to match to potential dogs that may be yours, and the other will be used if required as forensic evidence in the Court of Law.

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How do I know that my sample will be usable when needed?

We conduct random sample tests to ensure there is sufficient evidence on the sample stored. As the owner of the dog, we advise you to follow the instructions clearly (we tested lots of variations to make sure we got the best method).

Our DNA extraction method is extremely sensitive and while the sample is taken by the owner, when the instructions are followed there is an extremely low probability that both samples will fail.

If for any reason you are in doubt, first contact us at [email protected]

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What type of vials do you use?

Medical grade vial. Each vial holds a small amount of fluid that is used to help maintain the quality of the DNA sample. All vials are individually bar-coded that we use in our secure storage process. The vials have been sealed contaminant free to ensure no risk to a contamination.

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What is a DNA record?

DNA is the ultimate and indelible thumbprint of your companion; it is the only guaranteed evidence in the view of the UK justice system. DNA profiling provides a unique biological reference for an individual animal – rather like a fingerprint. DNA profiles are constant and will not change during the animal’s life. They can be used in any situation where the identity of the animal may be in question, for example if there is a dispute over ownership, or if the animal is lost or stolen. In this situation the archived reference sample can be compared to the animal in dispute.

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Why LAB+BONE does not process DNA?

LAB+BONE store the full DNA sample very deliberately because for the foreseeable future, sequencing the full DNA, is not technically practical and current tests a vast oversimplification and while better than nothing, they are far from irrefutable.

The legal system can only use what is available and weighs the value of that evidence based on it flaws however that pass-mark continues rise as capabilities improve.

Given a dog might live 10+ years is would be irresponsible to test under current requirement only to find that test detail invalidated in the future by which time it is too late.

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Can I transfer my subscription if my dog needs a new owner?

We will need to update your account and secure details of the new owner. Given this will require confidential details to be changed, please contact us at [email protected] to discuss.

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How can I cancel my subscription?

If for any reason you wish to cancel although we’ll be sad to see you go, just just give us one month’s notice or get in touch at [email protected] so we may take some further details.

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Can I get a copy of my dogs’ profile?

If you want you can, it will be at an additional one-off fee. We would use the Fisher Scientific Canine panel v2 will ask you to send in another sample so we can cryogenically store it. Please email [email protected] to discuss.

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