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Scottish Kennel Club hits back at docking ban

Despite the fact that the analysis of the responses to the Consultation on Mutilations, which ended on 5 January, has yet to be approved by the Subordinate Legislation Committee and the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, the Minister decided to make the announcement.

Scottish Kennel Club submitted a petition containing over 5250 signatures. BASC submitted a survey of Scottish vets, 31% of whom would continue docking working dogs. All this was in vain with the Minister apparently having pre-determined that the outcome would be a total ban.

The democratic voice of dog lovers and the working fraternity, whose sole interest is in the future welfare of their dogs, has apparently been ignored. With the Scottish Parliamentary Election coming just 3 days after the ban comes into force, perhaps dog lovers will take the opportunity to make their voice heard loud and clear.

Scottish Kennel Club is dismayed that, while tail shortening of other species is acceptable and while spaying and castration of very young dogs is acceptable – both of which will continue for ‘welfare’ reasons – the same logic does not appear to have been exercised for puppies.

As the Scottish Executive has suggested a review might take place in the next few years, accompanied by veterinary evidence, we will be looking into developing a database of tail injuries. At present, we would value any, and all, input.

However, it must be remembered that it will not be an offence to amputate an adult tail if medical reasons suggest it to be necessary for the welfare of the animal.

Scottish Kennel Club has continually requested assurances that those breeders, who have breeds which produce natural bobs, will be safe from prosecution. Unfortunately the only response has been ‘It is only illegal to dock the puppies. It is not illegal to own a dog with a short tail.’ It will be interesting to note which vet will make the decision as to whether a puppy is a natural bob or has been docked. Scottish Kennel Club will be available if advice is required.

Within the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, it states quite clearly that ‘A person commits an offence if the person takes a protected animal, or causes a protected animal to be taken, from a place in Scotland for the purpose of having a prohibited procedure carried out on the animal at a place outwith Scotland.’

In other words, it will be an offence to take, or allow anyone else to take, puppies out of Scotland to be docked. Scottish Kennel Club would like to emphasise this section of the Act.

Quoting from the 7 February Editorial in The Scotsman:- ‘Speaking for the Executive, Ross Finnie noted: "I'm clear that ending tail-docking will improve animal welfare in Scotland."

The decision to ban all tail-docking regardless suggests that Mr Finnie is more concerned with fighting outdated class wars than reducing animal pain. We have been here before. The banning of foxhunting with dogs - also claimed as a way of reducing animal suffering - has led only to more foxes being killed by shooting.

Mr Finnie has exempted some procedures from his general ban…… On that basis, he should consider exempting the docking of dogs' tails …..assuming, of course, that he is more worried about animal welfare than about making political points.’

Jean Fairlie
Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Scottish Kennel Club