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Striking a balance on the Animal Welfare Bill

With the Second Reading debate of the Animal Welfare Bill taking place on 10 January 2006 the Kennel Club anticipates Defra Minister Ben Bradshaw MP is likely to come under fire for not including a ban on tail docking on the face of the Bill but believes for this, the Animal Welfare Bill should be applauded.

Since Kennel Club breed standards have been amended to provide descriptions of traditionally docked breeds with tails, the Kennel Club continues to support the case for choice in docking, i.e. that it should be up to the breeder whether to dock their puppies’ tails. Scientists from across the globe distinguish between groups of newborn animals (including dogs), and confirm that since puppies cannot feel the same degree of pain as human babies, lambs and calves, tail docking should not cause pain providing it is performed by a veterinary surgeon within the first few days of a puppy’s life. Evidence from countries that have introduced a ban even suggests that in many working breeds with active tails, docking improves welfare by preventing tail injury.

While the Kennel Club is heartened that the Animal Welfare Bill is focusing on improving welfare rather than banning practices unnecessarily, it does remain concerned that the Bill makes no mention of training dogs with electric shock collars – a device known to cause dogs to suffer unnecessarily by emitting painful electric shocks via a remote control to the sensitive area of the dog’s neck. There is no doubt that electric shock collars hurt - they have to because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t work. There is also no doubt that with the vast array of positive training methods and devices that train dogs quickly, easily and reliably, there is no justification for using electric shock collars.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "The Kennel Club welcomes the Government’s position that there should continue to be freedom of choice on docking and hopes that this will allow debate to focus on practices which undoubtedly compromise the welfare of dogs such as the sale and use of electric shock collars".