Practice will be allowed for working dogs - but animal activists say it's cruel
Leading animal welfare charities claim a decision by MSPs to vote in favour of reintroducing tail-docking has failed Scotland’s dogs.
MSPs in the environment, climate change and land reform committee (ECCLR) voted by seven to three in favour of reintroducing tail-docking for working dogs at a meeting this afternoon.
The decision comes 10 years after Scotland introduced a ban on tail-docking of all dogs in Scotland.
The announcement will mean that the tails of spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies can be docked 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.
Sarah Moyes, OneKind campaigner, said: “We are extremely disappointed by today’s decision by the majority of MSPs in the ECCLR Committee to support the reintroduction of tail-docking for working dogs in Scotland, and are worried about the effect this will have on the welfare of dogs across the country.
“Evidence has shown that puppies experience acute pain when their tails are docked and today’s decision will lead to hundreds of dogs having to undergo this unnecessary and painful procedure."
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 and campaigners say many dogs will also suffer lifelong behavioural problems as a result of having their tails cut off.
Moyes continued: “Scotland led the UK by introducing a full tail-docking ban for puppies in 2007 and it has been a great success. Today’s decision is simply a huge step back in time, and goes against the opinion of veterinary organisations, animal welfare groups and the public.
“We understand that tail injuries to adult dogs is a serious welfare concern, but cutting off puppies’ tails cannot be justified.”
Meanwhile, the legalisation of the practice goes against the will of the Scottish people, Dogs Trust said.
A 2016 opinion poll of the Scottish public, carried out by YouGov on behalf of a coalition of animal welfare charities, showed 71% of those polled believed the ban on docking puppies’ tails should be maintained for all dogs.
Dogs Trust’s deputy veterinary director, Runa Hanaghan, who gave evidence to the ECCLR committee on Dogs Trust’s position against tail docking, said: "Tail docking involves severing through bone, nerve, muscle, and connective tissue when pups are less than 5 days old, at which point it is very difficult to guarantee they will go on to be working dogs.
“Dogs Trust is deeply saddened that the Scottish Government is planning on re-introducing this outdated and unnecessary practice. Sadly today we’ve seen a significant step backwards for animal welfare from a country who once led the way.”