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Dog organisations welcome Defra support for docking freedom

Dog breeders, owners and handlers throughout the dog world will warmly welcome the Government’s statement that there should continue to be freedom of choice over tail docking in dogs, say the Kennel Club and the Council of Docked Breeds. Both organisations are calling on Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw MP to confirm that position within the new Animal Welfare Bill.

The Bill, published on 14th October, will ban ‘mutilation’ of animals, but will allow for a range of specified exemptions which will be listed in subsequent Regulations. Details of these Regulations have not yet been published. However, in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanies the Bill, the Government has stated: "Sincere views were held by those who both support and oppose a ban on cosmetic docking and our preference is that there should continue to be freedom of choice."

Defra has indicated that docking is an issue for Parliament to properly decide.

"We have been campaigning for the past fourteen years to maintain freedom of choice over docking, and we are delighted that the Government has at last agreed with our position. A total ban would be devastating to the welfare of currently docked breeds, and a partial ban would be senseless. If it is acceptable to dock ‘working’, dogs why should it be unacceptable to dock any dog presented to the vet?" said CDB President Peter Squires.

Ronnie Irving, Chairman of the Kennel Club commented: "Opinion may be divided over docking, both within the dog world and within the veterinary profession, but that only confirms in our minds that the most appropriate course of action by the Minister is to allow individual breeders and owners, in consultation with their veterinary advisors, the freedom to make their own decisions. The dog world will warmly welcome the Government’s support for freedom of choice."

But both organisations have urged breeders, owners and supporters of traditionally docked breeds to make their views known to their MP as a matter of urgency.

"If the docking issue is to be decided by Parliament, then it is essential that all MPs are aware of the strength of support for the docked breeds we know and love. Their votes will be crucial, and it would be the greatest of tragedies if docking were to be lost simply because breed enthusiasts have failed to act promptly," said Mr Squires.

The Kennel Club and the Council of Docked Breeds are writing to Mr Bradshaw urging him to translate his support for freedom of choice into a Regulation which will allow docking to continue.

For further information contact Graham Downing (Council of Docked Breeds) on 01986 873688 or Kennel Club on 0207 518 1020