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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK
Stricter animal controls in force
Tail docking
An unusual sight... a Boxer with a tail intact
Animal welfare legislation which may see an end to the docking of dogs' tails has come into effect.

The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act means that people who cause unnecessary suffering to animals now face fines of up to 20,000.

A year in prison could also follow acts of animal cruelty under the new law.

Local authorities around Scotland now have powers to remove animals from situations where they believe they are at risk of suffering.

Animal health officers, state veterinary officers and Scottish SPCA inspectors will also be able to issue care notices, to give owners a chance to improve conditions for their animals.

These will take effect as soon as they are served and it is hoped they will avoid the need for prosecution in some cases.

'New obligation'

The act also includes increased slaughter powers to combat disease.

The issue of banning tail docking has caused controversy.

Those in favour of docking have argued that it prevents the tails of working dogs being caught in hedges and briars, injuring the animals.

A majority of MSPs had earlier voted for a blanket ban but were told that an exemption could be introduced for working dogs after consultation.

Edinburgh-based campaign group Advocates for Animals welcomed the measures contained in the act.

Spokeswoman Libby Anderson said: "Let us hope that the new obligation on animal owners will mean no more ponies left neglected in fields, no more dogs tied up outside for days on end, and no more animals kept in conditions which are barely tolerable."

Compromise on tail docking plans
31 May 06 |  Scotland
Minister defends slaughter powers
15 Mar 06 |  Scotland
MPs vote for dog tail docking ban
15 Mar 06 |  Politics
Campaign against dog tail docking
10 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Tail docking ban backed by MSPs
23 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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