THE GOVERNMENT’S Animal Welfare Bill that will continue to allow the docking of puppies' tails has won support from the New Zealand Kennel Club.
“The British Government is on the right track with its new animal welfare law,” club president Lesley Chalmers said.
“It is making owners responsible for their pets' welfare and continues to allow breeders the choice of whether to dock puppies' tails or not.”
The Animal Welfare Bill was introduced into the House of Commons in London two weeks ago after a lengthy consultation process.
Mrs Chalmers said New Zealand would do well to follow Britain's lead, by toughening up penalties for animal abusers and by recognising that docking puppies' tails was a legitimate choice for breeders.
NZ Labour MP Dianne Yates this year introduced a private member's bill that aims to ban tail docking except in individual cases where it is necessary for a dog's welfare because the tail had been damaged by disease or injury.
Mrs Chalmers said responsible dog-owners in Britain had welcomed the new bill there.
“It is the first overhaul of this area of law for 94 years and quite properly targets the few idiots who do not properly care for their pets. Fines of up to £20,000 ($51,450) and a year in jail are appropriate for people who wilfully mistreat dogs. Similarly substantial penalties for organising a dog fight are justified,” she said.
“On tail docking, the New Zealand Kennel Club welcomes the clear statement of the UK Government that 'there should continue to be freedom of choice'.
“We hope that the New Zealand Parliament will listen and quickly throw out Dianne Yates' private member's bill, the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which would ban tail docking outright.”
In February, New Zealand SPCA chief executive Robyn McDonald said a survey commissioned by the organisation showed 68 per cent of the public agreed with a ban.
The Colmar Brunton survey of 500 people aged over 15, conducted in the second week of February, found that 18 per cent disagreed with a ban. The remainder were undecided.
“The findings of this poll are consistent with a vast amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting that New Zealanders want an end to the cruel and unnecessary mutilation of dogs' tails,” Ms McDonald said.
“There's a well-known saying that dogs are our best friends. Most New Zealanders clearly don't see it as acceptable to cut part or all of a limb off some of our best friends, subjecting them to the risk of infection, nerve damage or incontinence, just to fit in with some rather outdated fashion.”
If passed into law, Ms Yates' bill would bring New Zealand into line with Australia and a number of European countries where cosmetic tail docking is banned.