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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 15:03 GMT
Vets call for ban on tail docking
Boxer dogs
Boxers are among breeds who have their tails docked
Vets and the RSPCA are calling for the government to ban docking dogs' tails for cosmetic reasons.

The British Veterinary Association says 90% of vets are against what it calls a painful procedure which should only be carried out for medical reasons.

And the RSPCA says three out of four people in Britain want cosmetic docking banned, as it says it is unnecessary and unethical.

The call comes ahead of a debate in Parliament on the Animal Welfare Bill.

The government has not included a ban in the new bill, but has left it open to introduce a full or partial ban later if there is enough support in Parliament.

The RSPCA says docking involves amputating a dog's tail and is usually carried out without anaesthetic when puppies are between three and five days old.

'Little finger'

The BVA, the national representative body for the veterinary profession, says it is painful procedure and is the equivalent of cutting off a baby's little finger.

Welfare groups have said the Bill falls short in not banning tail docking and animals performing in circuses.

Currently, enforcers such as the RSPCA cannot prosecute until there is veterinary evidence of suffering.

Breeder Patsy Hollings told BBC News that the chance of a working dog's tail being damaged was so great that docking was in its own interests.

Protect animals

Performed by a professional on a two-day-old dog, it caused no pain, she added.

But veterinary surgeon Brendan Clarke told BBC News that some puppies felt "as much if not more pain than adult dogs".

Docking caused "a lot of pain" and was "barbaric", he added.

The Bill, which was published last October, includes new measures to protect animals against abuse and to make owners legally liable for their pets' welfare in England and Wales.

It represents the first overhaul of pet law in 94 years and includes harsher fines of up to 20,000 for abuse and maximum jail terms of 51 weeks. The minimum age for buying a pet will rise from 12 to 16.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A dog breeder defends docking tails



SEE ALSO:
Concerns raised over tail docking
21 Dec 05 |  Scotland


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