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SKC urges breeders to lobby MSPs

Some 100 docked dogs attended a protest outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 31 May, the day Stage 3 of the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Bill would be debated. This was another attempt to gain support for an Amendment which had been tabled to exempt working dogs from the total ban on tail docking proposed by the Scottish Executive. Unfortunately, very few MSPs chose to join them.

Several amendments had been tabled; an exemption for working dogs along the lines of the Westminster amendment – again this contained clauses to prohibit the showing of legally docked dogs; an amendment to that amendment to delete the ‘non-showing’ clauses; and amendment to make it an offence to cross the border to have a ‘prohibited procedure’ performed thus closing the doors for Scottish people to have their puppies legally docked outside Scotland.

Scottish Kennel Club has lobbied hard throughout the year to persuade MSPs that docking was a minor procedure which protects for life. A three-fold leaflet has been produced, in agreement with the Kennel Club, BASC, SCA and SRPBA, and had been sent to all MSPs with individual covering letters. To follow up, all 129 MSPs had received emails in the days prior to the vote.

The first two amendments were heavily defeated by approximately two-thirds to one-third leaving the ‘cross-border docking tourism’ amendment tabled by the Minister, Ross Finnie MSP, gaining favour with the chamber and passing on to the face of the Bill, again by two-thirds to one-third.

A ban on the tail docking of puppies is not in the Primary legislation. The Bill only states that ‘all mutilations will be banned’. Had the exemption amendment been passed, this would have placed it within primary legislation, thus making any future amendments extremely difficult.

The Depute Minister, Rhona Brankin MSP, did, however, state that ‘Section 18 (banning mutilations) will not be enacted until the regulations allowing exemptions have been drafted, consulted on and approved by Parliament. That means that no final decision will be taken on the tail docking of dogs until the regulations are completed.’

She continued ‘I do not believe that an exemption should be made for working dogs but, if those who argue for such an exemption are able to present persuasive evidence supporting their case, their evidence will be given full consideration when we frame the extent of the exemptions. However, the time to do that will be during the consultation on the draft regulations.’

It is envisaged that the consultation on the secondary legislation will begin in Autumn 2006. SKC will continue to provide reasoned argument against a total ban on docking. Consultation will also be undertaken on a possible ban on the sale and use of Electric Shock Collars. SKC welcomes this consultation.

Despite the fact that the Daily Record newspaper printed headlines that the ban on docking started on May 31, SKC would like to assure readers that this is incorrect.

SKC has much work to do running up to the drafting of secondary legislation. It would be a great help if breed clubs, individuals and pro-docking organisations would continue their efforts also and maintain a high level of lobbying all Scottish MSPs. A list of MSPs can be found at http://
www.scottish.parliament.uk/msp/index.htm

Or, for further information, contact:- Jean Fairlie, SKC Parliamentary Liaison Officer Tel:- 01436 820478 or Myra Orr, SKC Secretary Tel: 0131 665 3920