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Advocates for Animals response:

Advocates for Animals has expressed its delight that the Scottish Parliament has voted to ban all tail-docking of dogs.

Advocates Director Ross Minett says: ‘This is a historic day for animal welfare in Scotland. Our understanding of, and attitudes towards, animals have changed much over the years and this new legislation is urgently needed to reflect these changes.

‘We are delighted that the Scottish Parliament has voted to prohibit all tail-docking of dogs. At long last we will see an end to this painful and unnecessary mutilation in Scotland. This ban has widespread support amongst vets and the people of Scotland. We congratulate the Scottish Executive for proposing this ban and members of the Scottish Parliament for supporting it.

‘We are very disappointed that the Parliament did not vote to require the Scottish Executive to base future infectious animal disease slaughter policies on scientific and veterinary advice and we hope that the Parliament will not come to regret this decision.

‘As Scottish people we like to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers that lead the way in animal welfare matters. This new Bill is a good start. However, over the coming months regulations will be made on many more important animal welfare issues, giving the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament a real chance to turn these fine words into reality.’

A press release issued this week states:

Tail-docking is the painful amputation, without anaesthetic, of all or part of a puppy’s tail. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, British Veterinary Association, the British Small Animals Veterinary Association, the majority of Scottish vets and people in Scotland support the ban on all tail-docking in Scotland, except for the therapeutic docking of an injured or diseased tail.

Duty of Care

The new Bill will update Scottish animal welfare legislation, much of which is nearly 100 years old. Advocates is pleased that the Bill not only retains the existing prohibition against cruelty and causing unnecessary suffering, but also places a duty of care on people who keep animals. This means that the owner or keeper of an animal will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure its welfare.

Extended slaughter powers

Advocates is very disappointed that MSPs voted against Amendments to the Animal Health section of the Bill which called for the Executive to base any decision to slaughter animals in the event of an infectious disease outbreak on veterinary and scientific advice. However, before using the new unlimited slaughter powers, the Executive must now explain why it has chosen to use these powers.

Upcoming issues

Many controversial animal welfare issues are not included in the Bill, but will be dealt with in regulations made under the Bill over the coming months and years. Advocates hopes that these regulations will:

Prohibit the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses
Ban the importation into Scotland of puppies from puppy farms
Restrict the keeping of exotic animals as pet
Strengthen the law on pet shops
Regulate the sale of animals on the internet
Ban the sale and use of electric shock collars for dogs
Ban temporary pet fairs and markets
Prohibit greyhound racing
Regulate the welfare of pheasants intensively reared for shooting