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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Concern over puppy dogs' tails
Tails are often cut off when dogs are still puppies
Inspectors at Scotland's largest animal welfare charity have revealed a large increase in reports of dogs with docked tails.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was becoming increasingly concerned about the practice, which is illegal in the UK.

Docking involves the shortening of an animal's tail a few days after birth, by amputation or banding, without the use of anaesthetic.

The charity's inspectors said they had received reports from a number of vets regarding the high percentage of dogs coming through their surgeries with docked tails.

Senior Inspector Mark Lumgair said: "Our concern is that people are apparently unaware that tail docking is prohibited under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

People seem to be unaware that this procedure should not be carried out automatically just because of the breed type
"One of the main problems is that certain breeds continue to be recognised without tails by the Kennel Club, such as Boxers and Dobermans, but dogs with full tails should be considered the norm.

"Several vets have expressed concern at the number of people who attend their surgeries and own dogs with docked tails.

"People seem to be unaware that this procedure should not be carried out automatically just because of the breed type."

In 1991, the UK government amended the Veterinary Surgeons Act, thereby prohibiting the docking of dog's tails by lay persons from 1 July 1993.

Now, only veterinary surgeons are, by law, allowed to dock and only in cases where it is in the best interests of the health of the dog.

Following the government move, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in November 1992, ruled docking to be unethical, "unless for therapeutic or acceptable prophylactic reasons".

Furthermore, the circumstances in which the Royal College considered prophylactic docking to be acceptable were so hedged with conditions as to make the routine docking of puppies by veterinary surgeons extremely difficult.

Vets who continue to dock for cosmetic purposes risk disciplinary action, including being struck off the professional register.

Invention measures 'waggiest' tail
06 Mar 03  |  England

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