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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 19:16 GMT
MSPs support dog tail docking ban
Tail docking
Boxers will not have their tails docked in Scotland from May
MSPs have voted to ban the docking of all dogs' tails in Scotland, despite calls for a working dogs exemption.

The environment and rural development committee voted five to one in favour of the new rules, with one abstention.

The ban will now have to be approved by the parliament before coming into force on 30 April.

However, a Scottish Executive official said the changes were bound to result in an increase in injuries to working dogs' tails.

Many working dogs currently have their tails removed to prevent injuries.

Tail damage

Executive official Ian Strachan told the committee: "There is bound to be an increase in tail damage because you can't damage what you don't have.

"The issue here is the extent of damage, whether it is just a small cut or whether we are talking about severe damage."

The new regulations, which outlaw a number of animal mutilations, are being brought in as a result of the Animal Health and Welfare Scotland Act.

While that was passed by Holyrood last year, ministers wanted to carry out consultation before bringing in the regulations banning practices such as docking.

Lamb having tail docked
The docking of lambs' tails will still be allowed

As well as outlawing tail docking for dogs, the regulations also make it an offence for someone to take their animal to England to have the procedure carried out there.

However, it will still be legal to purchase a docked dog from England or elsewhere and to take heavily pregnant bitches south of the border to have their puppies, which could be docked in England before returning to Scotland.

While a similar ban on docking is due to come into place next month in England, there will be exemptions for working dogs, with pups allowed to be docked up to five days old.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie told MSPs the evidence from professional organisations, including the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, in favour of a total ban had been compelling.

'Unnecessary pain'

However, he said that the ban on docking working dogs could be reviewed in the future if overwhelming evidence emerged.

Conservative MSP Ted Brocklebank said: "I believe the minister's decision on this has been misguided and could inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on working dogs."

Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers' Association, said the executive was condemning working dogs to lives of "pain and misery".

Libby Anderson, political director of Advocates for Animals, said: "We are delighted that the issue has been settled and that the principle of no tail docking of any dogs in Scotland has been agreed."

She added that Advocates welcomed comments that a review should also be made of any veterinary developments that would reduce mutilations of farmyard animals, including tail docking and castrations.




SEE ALSO
Breeding worry over tail docking
23 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Canine tail docking ban announced
07 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Views wanted on animal mutilation
16 Oct 06 |  Scotland
Stricter animal controls in force
05 Oct 06 |  Scotland
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

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