OneKind has hit out at suggestions some forms of tail docking could be made legal again
An animal protection charity has pleaded for a ban on docking the tails of dogs in Scotland not to be lifted.
OneKind reacted after the Scottish Government announced an argument had been put forward to introduce an exemption to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which bans the practice.
In response to a question asked in parliament, environment minister Aileen McLeod MSP conceded the government was considering issuing a public consultation on the issue.
If it was ever proven beyond doubt that the welfare benefits of tail-docking outweighed the welfare costs, we would review our anti-tail-docking policy.
She said it was suggested vets be allowed to dock spaniel and hunt, point, retrieve pups if they believe that the dogs are likely to be used for working in future and that the pain of docking is outweighed by the possible avoidance of more serious injuries later in life.
OneKind director Harry Huyton said the move would be a mistake and undermining the tail-docking ban would be a backwards step for animal welfare in Scotland.
“The welfare case for allowing dogs to keep their tails is clear and we have seen no evidence to justify removing the ban,” he said.
“We know that gamekeepers have lobbied hard to be allowed to shorten spaniels’ tails so that they can work in bracken and brambles. But it must be asked whether mutilating young puppies and possibly leaving a life-long legacy of pain and behavioural problems can be justified on these grounds.”
Two research papers on tail-docking, commissioned by the Scottish Government from Glasgow University, published in April 2014, found that working dogs with tails are more likely to injure their tails than dogs with short, very short or almost no tails.
Huyton however blasted the research saying it did not assess the pain and longer-term consequences of tail-docking puppies.
“We don’t want to see any dogs suffer avoidable injury at any point in their lives,” he continued.
“If it was ever proven beyond doubt that the welfare benefits of tail-docking outweighed the welfare costs, we would review our anti-tail-docking policy. But there is simply no indication that tail-docking of puppies offers a net welfare benefit for working dogs.
“Dogs have tails for very good reasons and they should be allowed to keep them.”