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Working dogs: MP's reject tail docking ban

[Thursday 16 March 2006]

A victory for animal welfare is how countryside organisations are describing a decision taken by MP's to exempt working dogs from a ban on tail docking.

It was initially intended that the Animal Welfare Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, would prohibit 'prophylactic' or preventative tail docking as well as that carried out purely for cosmetic reasons.

MP's vote to exempt working dogs from tail docking ban
MP's vote to exempt working dogs from tail docking ban
Photo: BASC

However, law-makers backed a Government amendment, sponsored by Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Becket, which will see docking carried out on young dogs and only by Vets who must certify that the Pup is likely to become a working dog later in its life. The vote was carried by 278 to 267 and will still outlaw cosmetic docking and the showing of any dog with a docked tail.

Working dogs such as Springer Spaniels are a common sight on the moorland of the Yorkshire Dales as the Grouse shooting season gets underway every August. Many have their tails docked soon after birth to prevent an injury whilst working in confined spaces or in thick undergrowth according to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) .

Commenting on the decision, BASC Director of Communications, Christopher Graffius said: "The vote was won by a coalition of MPs from all parties who saw the sense of exempting working dogs from a ban.

"It demonstrates the effectiveness of BASC's strategy of working with all political parties to seek a dialogue and support for shooting. I am delighted by this result, which is a victory for common sense and the welfare of working dogs."

The Countryside Alliance has also welcomed the move, saying that 'common sense has prevailed'.

Chief Executive Simon Hart insists that the amendment is entirely in keeping with the aims of the Animal Welfare Bill, in that the practice of docking is likely to prevent injury to working dogs.

Whilst initially calling for a complete ban, the RSPCA has welcomed the vote as a major step forward with the Society's Head of External Affairs, David Bowles saying: "MPs have rightly signalled that it is unacceptable in a civilised society to amputate a puppy's tail purely because some people think that it is aesthetically pleasing to disable a dog in this way."

"This is a step forward for the welfare of thousands of dogs," added TV Vet Emma Milne, founder of Vets Against Docking.

"The veterinary profession has long argued that the practice should be stopped and I, along with all the vets who have contacted me regarding this issue, am very pleased - however a complete ban would have been preferable."

The decision means the UK is now able to join the 13 other European countries that have already ratified the European Convention on Pet Animals, which states that it is illegal to dock dogs' tails.

What do you think?

Is this a victory for animal welfare?

Should working dogs have their tail docked or is it now an outdated practice?

Send us your views using the form below





Feedback received on this subject:

  • I am a trainee Animal Beahaviourist (M.I.A.C.E) and feel that it is well past time to ban the docking of dogs tails. The practice of docking tails is yet another archaic tradition driven by a few die hard people who wish no more than their dog to look more asthetically pleasing !!!

    Personally I feel the dog looks and must feel better when they are complete, as God intended (the tail is there for a reason, such as balance,social interaction,with people & other dogs to name but a few).

    This is a VICTORY for Animal Welfare !! We have had two Rottweilers in the past and the breeders would not leave their tails intact (in case they wanted to keep the dogs and show them),we look forward to purchasing our next dog with a tail !!

  • Alyson Wright

  • No docking for all breeds!

    Docking puppies tail's, that are under 3 days old, is not painfull.

    I think this ban is terrible news. I think they need to ask ALL vets opinons, not just have the input of the ones that agree, A LOT DONT. I have English Springer Spaniels and all of them have been docked and are very happy.

    What is England turing into? I thought this was soppsed to be a free country.

    First you take away our right to traditional and long LOVED hunting and now you try to stop docking, which is in the best interst of many dogs. If it carries on like this, soon they will try to ban animal consumption.

    I am outraged.

  • Miss Jessica White

    Editors' note

    The Animal Welfare Act which received its Royal Assent on Wednesday (7 November) exempts certain breeds of working dogs - including Spaniels - from the tail docking ban. See article: Leap forward for animal welfare as new law is passed

  • No docking for all breeds!

    Any working dog breeder can then have his litter docked? What if the new owner only uses the dog as a pet? Will people then only buy a working dog breed because it doesn't get docked?

    In Germany many breeders stopped breeding their breed because they couldn't dock any more! So they couldn't have loved the breed for the breed itself.

  • Michelle Perkins

  • I have owned and showed Boxers for over 26 years and have had puppies tails docked. I feel my freedom of choice is being taken away. Surely there are double standards here.

    Veterinary Surgeons are still happy to remove healthy testicles and wombs from animals where the owner chose to have this done purely to stop the bitch coming into seaon and creating a mess in the house and males to stop them 'chasing' bitches and being aggresive to other dogs.

    Also Veterinary surgeons make a lot of money from these procedures. I have worked in a Veterinary practice and have seen the trauma these animals suffer when coming out of a general anathestic (which in itself is dangerous).

    The docking of a puppies tail at 3 days old is a very simple procedure that takes a couple of minutes, the pup is then back suckling from its mother with no side effects. Also Veterinary surgeons argue it is to stop unwanted puppies.

    I have kept both entire males and females together in a normal family home (with no kenneling facilities) and have never had an unwanted litter. If Veterinary Surgeons agree to stop removing healthy wombs and testicles from animals where there are no medical issues then I would be very happy to stop having puppies docked.

    I also feel that the amount of time, effort and money being spent on this issue would be better spent on more pressing issues like the NHS, Policing etc.

  • Mrs. S.Whiting
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