‘Gundogs should not be exempted from the docking ban’
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), as seen from their recent press releases, are currently lobbying for a docking exemption for working dogs in the legislation being put forward in the Animal Welfare Bill. Their view is that these dogs require prophylactic (preventative) docking to protect them against injuries in the field.
Simon Clarke, of Rossett-based BASC, is quoted as saying: "No MP would deliberately smash the tail of a dog, leaving it a lacerated bloody mess."
The Anti-Docking Alliance (ADA) points out that in this one sentence he has given a good description of docking itself - the practice which he wishes to continue and the practice ADA hopes that all MPs will in fact vote to prohibit. To claim it is a traditional rural practice is hardly reason to maim puppies.
The ADA says that "At the present time the majority of dogs in the "docked breeds" have been docked despite the 1991 change in legislation. Therefore reliable research statistics on injuries cannot exist. Many breeds used as gun dogs, e.g. Setters, Labrador Retrievers, English Pointers are not docked and there has been no clamour in the past for these breeds to be docked." The BASC claim that banning docking " would be a misguided attempt to improve animal welfare which will cause unnecessary suffering to thousands of dogs."
ADA says "Thousands of dogs are already being caused unnecessary suffering by being docked as neonates for an injury that may never happen.
The photograph being used in the BASC campaign shows Matty, a Spaniel born in 1994. The same photograph has been used on the pro-docking activists website for several years but it was not recorded that this dog ever had its tail amputated. If tail injury were as common as implied then surely more recent examples should have been exhibited. The dog's owner also stated that '
Matty worked alongside many other dogs, not just mine, and no others had damage similar to hers'. Mention of other injuries in field work are never quoted but it would not be untrue to say that feet, ears, eyes and body are in jeopardy when these dogs are sent into hostile territory."
The BASC are quoting tail injury statistics from an non-validated Swedish German Short-haired Pointer survey; which, in the event, did not overturn the Swedish ban. In that report little attention is ever given to the unusual fact that 12 dogs in the cohort group died under the age of 3!
To say that 'long tails frequently get torn by the gorse and brambles' implies that the proponents of docking are likely considering that all dogs' tails should be removed. The quoted figure of 70,000-80,000 puppies having their tails docked each year does not allow for the fact that few of these dogs end up in a "working" environment.
The Anti-Docking Alliance says " The Hound Group of dogs are not docked and when worked they cover similar terrain. The BASC should give support to an independent study (as would we, ADA) of all the injuries caused to their working animals and not just concentrate on tails: if a tail is injured, amputation is the last line of treatment; as it would be for an injured leg." . As their name implies the BASC should "conserve".