“Sad day” for animal welfare as tail docking returns

Tail docking cropped

Tories back the SNP to bring back tail docking for certain breeds

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22nd June 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Charities have said the reintroduction of tail-docking is a “sad day” for animal welfare in Scotland.

They spoke out after MSPs voted 86 to 29 in favour of lifting the country’s tail-docking ban for some breeds or working dogs.

This decision comes 10 years after the practice was outlawed in Scotland.

Greens and Labour MSPs were against the reintroduction of tail docking, but Tories backed the SNP to vote it through.

OneKind Director Harry Huyton said: “This is a sad day for animal welfare. Scotland has gone from a world-leading ban on all tail-docking to a law that offers puppies weaker protection than in England.

“This was done in the absence of evidence, with no support from the animal welfare and veterinary communities, and against the wishes of the vast majority of the Scottish public who wanted to see the ban remain as it was.”

The amendments to the ban mean that the tails of spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies can be docked by a maximum of one third in length for puppies that are not more than five days old, when vets have sufficient evidence that the dogs will be used for working purposes in the future.

Huyton continued: “Our hope now is that this sorry story is a one-off event and not indicative of a wider disregard for animal welfare.

“We are calling on the Scottish Government to put forward an ambitious programme for progress in animal protection over the remainder of this parliament that would restore Scotland’s place as a leader in this field.”

“We are grateful to the MSPs who voted against this damaging and backwards proposal.”

Dogs Trust deputy veterinary director Run Hanaghan, who gave evidence at Holyrood opposing the move, said: "Tail docking involves severing through bone, nerve, muscle, and connective tissue when pups are less than five days old, at which point it is very difficult to guarantee they will go on to be working dogs.

"We are deeply saddened that the Scottish Government is reintroducing this outdated and unnecessary practice.

“Sadly today we've seen a significant step backwards for animal welfare from a country who once led the way."

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association welcomed the move, saying it was "recompense for all working spaniels and hunt point retrievers who have had to endure ten years of painful injuries".

Chairman Alex Hogg said: "The ban on tail docking in 2007 was made with good intentions but failed to account for working dogs, whose jobs are very specific. The welfare of these animals was compromised by the legislation and Scottish Government deserves immense credit for taking a progressive, evidence-based step to rectify that today.

"Some have conflated tail shortening with full tail docking, which leaves dogs with only a stump. This is the opposite. It is a quick, preventative procedure protecting the animal over its whole working life, leaving it with an expressive, waggy tail."