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Scottish Government announcements fail to protect dogs

Released to press on 05 October 2016

Leading animal welfare charity OneKind claims the Scottish Government has failed to protect dog welfare following today's announcement on new measures to protect animal welfare.

Whilst OneKind has welcomed the commitment to review offences and penalties for animal cruelty under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, the specific measures announced today affecting dogs were labelled a backward step.

The Scottish Government has announced that it will regulate electronic training aids for dogs and cats - "electric shock collars" - rather than ban them, as Wales has done. It will also introduce an exemption to allow the tail docking of spaniel puppies and certain other 'working' breeds.

OneKind director Harry Huyton said: "This is a sad day for dog welfare in Scotland. Reintroducing tail docking and failing to take the opportunity to ban electric shock collars will damage the lives of dogs affected by these practices.

"These decisions also fly in the face of public and expert opinion. Polling from earlier this year shows that three-quarters of the Scottish public back a shock collar ban and want the ban on docking puppy tails to be maintained.

"Wales banned electric shock collars over five years ago and there is no reason why Scotland could not have done the same. Instead, the decision to create a complex regulatory system will take time and money to develop, and we are unconvinced it will protect dogs from abuse, particularly as shock collars will continue to be available freely and cheaply on the internet."

Tail docking was banned in Scotland in 2007, but today's announcements will mean that the tails of Spaniel and Hunt Point Retriever puppies can be docked shortly after birth, where a vet believes they are likely to be for use as a working dog and risk serious tail injury in later life.

Harry Huyton added: "We are disappointed to see the tail-docking ban weakened when there is no scientific or cost-benefit case for reintroducing these mutilations. In spite of the exemption that the Scottish Government has announced today, we expect to see vets refusing to dock tails, which would be in line with British Veterinary Association policy.

"The welfare case for allowing dogs to keep their tails is clear and was amply made during the passing of the 2006 Act, and we have seen no evidence to justify removing the ban."

The measures were announced by Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, today. The Cabinet Secretary also confirmed the Scottish Government's intention to ban wild animals in circuses by 2018.

Harry Huyton said: " We are pleased to see Scotland acting quickly to ban this outmoded and inhumane use of animals in the name of entertainment."

There have been no circuses with wild animals based in Scotland in living memory, but circuses with wild animals have toured Scotland over the last decade.


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