THE COUNCIL of Docked Breeds has spoken out after the enactment of the ban on the docking of dogs’ tails, which came into effect last Friday when the Animal Welfare Act became law.
Although an exemption for working dogs was built into the Act during Parliamentary debate, largely as a compromise measure, the CDB view this as being short-changed and condemn what they consider to be a U-Turn by the Labour Government who originally promised no change to the then tail docking laws.
Last Monday the CDB issued a statement on the whole matter:- ‘Since 2004, the CDB worked very closely with the Kennel Club in a concerted effort to retain the freedom of choice. We were both pleasantly surprised when the Animal Welfare Bill was published 14 October 2005 to read in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanies the Bill, that the Government stated: ‘Sincere views were held by those who both support and oppose a ban on cosmetic docking and our preference is that there should continue to be freedom of choice.’
‘Sadly, this view was not shared by the majority of MPs. The third reading of the Animal Welfare Bill took place on Tuesday 14 March 2006, and 88% of MPs voted in favour of a ban on tail docking with an exemption for certain working dogs, with many restrictions.
‘It would appear that the lobbying machine of the Countryside Alliance (CA) and British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) who had been encouraging MPs to save docking for working dogs at the expense of show dogs, had won the day’ said Peter Squires of the CDB.
‘In early 2006 we were surprised at receiving many letters from previously supportive Conservative MPs now suggest that they will only support docking for working dogs, classifying the docking of non-working dogs as "the appaling act of docking for cosmetic reasons". We have no doubt that they were heavily influenced by the Countryside Alliance and BASC, who had previously supported the CDB all breeds campaign’.
‘Both BASC and the Countryside Alliance continued to work closely with the authorities to help frame the regulations outlining the ‘working dog exemptions’ both in England and Wales.
‘The Animal Welfare Acts came into force in Wales on 31 March 2007, England on 6 April 2007 and lastly in Scotland from 30 April 2007. Tail docking will be effectively banned from the above dates. An exemption for certain working dogs only applies to those being docked in England or Wales.
Peter Squires continued, ‘Having worked closely with the Kennel Club from 2004, we were disappointed in 2006 when they moved their campaigning might away from the retention of tail docking, to a ban of electric shock collars instead. Losing three major allies left the CDB in a far weaker position.
‘The exemptions ‘won’ by BASC and the Countryside Alliance appear unworkable as so few vets have indicated that they are likely to continue to dock under its administrative requirements and continued pressure from the RCVS, who to this day, discipline innocent vets who dock within the law.
‘The CDB has been offering members introductions to docking vets for over ten years, but this service has now ceased, as we can no longer guarantee veterinary coverage throughout England and Wales.
‘The CDB has never condoned law breaking, so sadly concludes that those UK breeders who wish to continue breeding traditionally docked breeds, abide by the law and leave tails undocked from the above dates, or stop breeding’.
Australia has experienced a huge drop in litter registrations since their tail docking ban was introduced. It remains to be seen how the UK will react, but a similar drop is to be expected.