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OneKind urges Scottish Government not to reintroduce tail-docking

Released to press on 21 April 2017

A leading animal protection charity is urging the Scottish Government not to reintroduce tail-docking for working dogs in Scotland.

Last year, the Scottish Government announced plans which will allow the tails of Spaniel and Hunt Point Retriever puppies to be docked where vets believe the dog will be a working dog in the future, and could injure itself in later life. The announcement came nine years after Scotland became the only country in the UK to ban tail-docking for all puppies.

Libby Anderson, Policy Advisor of OneKind, said:

“OneKind sees this proposal as a step back in time – we understand that tail injuries to adult dogs are a real welfare concern, but to address the problem by cutting off puppies’ tails is outmoded and unjustifiable.  Research carried out for the Scottish Government indicated that to prevent the amputation of one adult Spaniel’s tall due to injury, 320 Spaniel puppies would have to be docked when only a few days old.  That is simply disproportionate.”

OneKind recently published a report titled A step back in time? The Scottish Government proposal to reintroduce tail-docking which looks at the evidence base behind the tail-docking ban.

The procedure of tail-docking involves the cutting or crushing of skin, muscles, and up to seven pairs of nerves, bones and cartilage. It’s done without any pain relief; therefore, puppies experience extreme pain when they have the procedure done. Many dogs will also suffer lifelong behavioural problems as a result of having their tails cut off.

Under the new proposals, vets will be allowed to dock tails to a maximum of one third in length for puppies that are not more than five days old, when they have sufficient evidence that the dogs will be used for working purposes in the future.

Libby Anderson continued:

“It used to be thought that new-born animals, including humans, did not feel pain.  We now know that is untrue and of course puppies suffer when their tails are cut off.  OneKind is confident that very few vets in Scotland, if any, will be prepared to carry out this mutilation.”

Legislation to amend the ban on tail-docking of puppies in Scotland is in preparation, and OneKind believes it would be premature to relax Scotland’s ban on tail-docking until it has further evidence regarding the pain of tail-docking, long term health and behavioural effects, and alternatives to docking such as selecting safer terrain or not using a vulnerable dog when shooting


Notes to editor:

1. OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
2. OneKind’s report A step back in time? The Scottish Government proposal to reintroduce tail-docking can be read here.

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