To coincide with Crufts the Council of Docked Breeds has revealed the results of its survey into the ethics of tail docking ahead of the ban which will come into force when the Animal Welfare Act becomes law on April 6th 2007.
Under the Act, docking of puppies’ tails will be banned in England with an exemption for puppies which are to be bona-fide working dogs. Tail docking will be banned in Scotland with no exemptions under the Animal Health &Welfare (Scotland) Act from April 30th 2007. From that date, no puppy can be docked in Scotland.
Over 2,500 respondents completed the docking survey, which was open for all breeders and owners to complete. The key question in the survey was, of course, whether they believed that docking should be banned. A massive 76% strongly disagreed, whilst a further 11% disagreed. Only 2% agreed with a ban and 8% strongly agreed with a ban. Interestingly, 65% strongly disagreed with a docking ban, even with exemptions for working dogs, as planned in the Animal Welfare Act, but only 5% strongly agreed.
The docking ban was brought about largely because unlike DEFRA, the Government chose to ignore sound scientific and veterinary evidence that it does not cause discomfort to very young puppies. This was reflected in the respondent’s views with 81% being very satisfied that the procedure caused no discomfort to puppies, whilst a miniscule 4% were very dissatisfied and thus took the opposing view.
The futures of many customarily docked breeds are clearly under threat from the docking ban.
Asked whether they would continue to breed their chosen breed following the docking ban, 35% said they would give up, 32% had not decided and 24% would ‘begrudgingly’ continue to breed puppies that were not able to be docked. Similar numbers responded on the question of whether they would continue to show their chosen breed undocked, with 37% saying they would not.
Politically, the Labour Government has cause for concern for allowing the docking ban to be worked into the Animal Welfare Bill when DEFRA Minister Ben Bradshaw had initially publicly given assurances that no such ban should be included and then reneged on this statement. 39% of respondents said they would not vote Labour at the next General Election, whilst 38% said they would transfer their vote from Labour to another party. Only 4% said they would continue to vote Labour as they supported a ban.
‘The survey findings indicate what we have been saying all along,’ said CDB President Peter Squires. ‘It is simply this: Dog exhibitors and breeders know better than politicians and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Many of the respondents had been breeding dogs for over 20 years and know their subject. They are well informed on the whole procedure of tail docking and have abided by the law in having the procedure carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
‘They also know that the docking ban will cause far more welfare problems for dogs than it will solve, as has been clearly demonstrated in countries where there have been docking bans. Dogs will injure their tails or be born with deformed tails, and this will result in them having to have their tails amputated when they are older. Amputation is a genuinely painful, major surgical procedure, whereas the docking of a three day old puppy’s tail is not.
‘Future Crufts will be affected as well when these experienced breeders stop breeding and open the floodgates to puppy farmers who have little regard for breed standards and for breeding healthy stock. We could be looking forward to the extinction of a number of breeds and severe welfare problems for hundreds, if not thousands of dogs.’
We are yet to be informed how puppies born with naturally short tails are to be viewed by those policing the new Act, but can almost guarantee that RSPCA ‘inspectors’ will delight in taking naturally bobbed puppies away from their rightful owners for no good reason, in the months to come.
More tail docking information and contact details at www.cdb.org.