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Government must now reflect
on consultation responses says CDB

PUBLIC CONSULTATION on a future Animal Welfare Bill may have closed, but has the Government’s mind closed as well?

A statement issued by DEFRA suggests that animal welfare Minister Elliot Morley MP has already settled his views on tail docking even though the ink is not yet dry on the hundreds of responses sent to his Department before the April 30 deadline, says the Council of Docked Breeds. It has urged the Government to reflect long and hard on all the issues raised by the public and by interested parties before deciding policy.

“It is an open secret that of more than 1,600 letters received by DEFRA from members of the public, the overwhelming majority came from dog breeders and owners concerned about a possible ban on tail docking. Yet on the very day that consultation closed, Mr Morley clearly indicated that he is opposed to docking for reasons of hygiene or to maintain breed standards. His description of it as a ‘mutilation’ was gratuitously emotive,” said CDB Secretary Ginette Elliott.

“Would it not be more pertinent for him to read and reflect on some of the letters first, before rushing into hasty judgements?”

“Of course we welcome the acknowledgement, implied in what Mr Morley does not say, that docking is acceptable in some instances such as in the case of sporting dogs. But if there is no welfare issue here, then what makes the docking of non-sporting dogs such a problem?

The question of docking should be left for breeders to decide in consultation with their veterinary advisers,” said Ginette Elliott.


The CDB also expressed dismay that the Government is again considering UK accession to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Pet Animals, which will affect more than 100 dog breeds.

“The Convention was one of four matters which was expressly excluded from the Animal Welfare consultation. If Ministers were minded to consider signing up to this well-meaning but woolly piece of European legislation, would it not have been reasonable to invite comment on it at the same time as other welfare issue?” asked Ginette Elliott.

“It seems likely that some of those 1,600 letter writers might have wished to have given DEFRA the benefit of their advice on the European Convention. Perhaps Ministers knew that the advice they would have received would not have been to their liking.”