Quotes from the MP's deciding the fate of docking

- are these words of experts in who we all trust?

from the Standing Committee debate, Tuesday 17th January 2006

Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): Clearly, there are health downsides to the docking of dogs' tails. There is evidence that it causes them distress, (ed. WHERE?) and on Second Reading, hon. Members discussed in great detail issues relating to the ability of dogs to wag their tails, and the mental suffering that they might endure if unable to exercise themselves in a way that is second nature to them.

Anne Snelgrove (South Swindon) (Lab): I am pleased to speak to my amendment, No. 152. I agree with many of the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud. I am greatly troubled by the tail docking of working dogs and—for cosmetic purposes—of show dogs. I am troubled because I have neither seen nor heard any evidence to convince me that it is needed at birth. (ed.none so deaf as those who do not wish to hear)

Anne Snelgrove: I am disappointed by the lack of recognition of public opinion on tail docking. The public consultation to which the statutory instruments refer appears to come mainly from breeders. We should pay more attention to what the general public are saying about tail docking; they do not seem to feel that it is necessary. (ed. are breeders not the most interested party and also members of the public)?

Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes) (Lab): I certainly agree that the existing law is not effective in respect of those carrying out docking who are not legally entitled to do it. A lot of information says that puppies do not feel pain because their nervous systems are not fully developed. That is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard. Babies cannot speak, but they can certainly suffer pain. It could be argued that the nervous system of babies is not fully developed because they cannot speak. (ed. obviously an expert on babies and totally ignorant about canines)

Justine Greening (Putney) (Con): I am pleased to speak about tail docking. We need to keep in mind what the Committee are trying to achieve, which is the maximum animal welfare provision for, in this case, dogs. We face a pretty straightforward choice. First, I can see no justification for cosmetic docking. It is not needed for therapeutic purposes, and we should therefore ban it. (who is talking about COSMETIC docking, what is cosmetic docking?)

Ms Angela C. Smith (Sheffield, Hillsborough) (Lab) : Is this not a matter of straightforward logic? A rugby player may lose his front teeth, but he does not have them removed in anticipation of their possible loss so why should we do the same to dogs? (ed. so no need to vaccinate dogs either, cure is better than prevention it seems)

Barbara Keeley (Worsley) (Lab): I should say up front that I am for a total ban. I have heard quite a lot of detail from other hon. Members, and I talked about the matter on Second Reading. Many hon. Members expressed a view on Second Reading that is shared by many members here that dogs need tails for communication and for balance, and that any decision to remove a tail must take that into account. I give great weight to that opinion. (ed. opinion reigns, no need for proof or logic)

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac) that it seems self-evident that tail docking would cause puppies pain. There is no doubt about that. (ed. no proof either) There is anecdotal evidence of what happens to puppies while the procedure is being carried out. Breeders do not like it, many vets do not like it, and many people find it very disturbing.

It is clear that if we allow an exemption, it will be abused. It will be possible to get docking done by going down a country lane and handing over cash (ed. shorthand for all breeders are despicable crooks)?

Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): If the clause is really about protecting tails, why not invent a sheath for dogs to wear? That is surely not beyond the realms of science. For how many hundreds of years have we had the humble horse shoe to protect horses? If that is what it is about, why can we not find a more scientific solution?

I should like to make one point on the key issue of prophylactic docking. If the clause is about docking working dogs' tails, why do people not wait until they know that the dogs are going to be working before making the decision? (ed. speechless at this naivety)

The unfortunate U turn

Mr. Bradshaw: That is very helpful and I thank my hon. Friend. My hon. Friends the Members for Cleethorpes and for Worsley (Barbara Keeley) also favoured a total ban. Both Liberal Democrat Members expressed, I think, a preference for a total ban. That leaves the hon. Member for Leominster and my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Sherwood as the only members of the Committee to express any support for an exemption for working dogs, along with the hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), who said that it would be up to the Government to convince her that there should be such an exemption.

As I have said, we do not think that it is the Government's job to try to convince anyone. What we do is listen to the balance of opinion on the Committee. I intend, on the basis of that balance of opinion, to introduce a statutory instrument.

Gentleman any assurance about a statutory instrument. The Government will not be able to control what amendments are debated on Report: that will be up to Mr. Speaker. However, both sides have made it clear that if the issue is raised, it is not one on which the Government would be right to whip Labour Members. For the reasons that I have given, it is our strong preference that the issue should be dealt with by statutory instrument. Going by the balance of opinion in the Committee, we would bring forward a statutory instrument based on the invisible version 3, which would implement a full ban on the tail docking of dogs.

In conclusion - CONFUSION:

Bill Wiggin: It has been an interesting debate. There have been several misunderstandings among members of the Committee —for instance, about the fatness of a dog's tail and the various questions raised by research on bobbed breeds. A dog may naturally have no tail, but how could one not prosecute the owner? Some dogs genuinely have very short tails. There is some confusion over what is a working dog—whether it is a sheepdog, which it is not in this case; whether it is a spaniel; and whether labradors are working dogs, which they are not in respect of docking. There is a great deal of confusion.

Tail docking – is this the freedom to choose? - CDB Press Release

Dog breeders are furious over the lack of impartiality and ignorance displayed by MPs debating the tail docking issue – and they have slammed the rapid about-turn on the subject by Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw.

Peter Squires, President of the Council of Docked Breeds said after the debate on docking, held during the Committee stage of the Animal Welfare Bill: “How can democratic decisions be made by MP’s who both display their ignorance to the facts surrounding the issue and appear to be quoting directly from RSPCA propaganda which is not backed up by any scientific facts whatsoever?”

“When the Committee discussed whether or not slugs and snails feel pain, they demanded scientific proof. Why did they not demand it in the case of puppies’ tails? Had they done so, it would have been an end to the debate on tail docking, for no such scientific proof exists,” said Mr Squires.

He dismissed MPs’ suggestions about inventing a sheath for dogs to wear over their tails to prevent damage and that owners should wait until they know that their dogs are going to work before having their tails shortened.

“The most basic review of tail injury reports shows that trying to keep a sheath or bandage on a working dog’s tail is a complete non-starter. And as for the suggestion that owners should wait until a nine month old puppy enters basic training before putting it through a major surgical operation requiring general anaesthetic and extended convalescence, words fail me. The whole point of docking a newborn puppy is to prevent major surgery in later life.”

He then attacked Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw MP for making a U-turn on Government policy without even setting out the case for his published preference.

“Ministers have had three and a half years to consider this subject since it was first opened to public consultation. Government officials have considered it from every angle and perspective, and they finally admitted last October that their preference was to maintain the freedom to choose and allow vets to dock if they considered it appropriate.

“Mr Bradshaw didn’t even so much as set out the case for freedom of choice, let alone argue in favour of it. He has capitulated to ignorance and prejudice.”