February 2007

Draft Statutory Instrument Released

The Docking of Working Dogs' Tails (England) Regulations 2007

The DEFRA consultations have concluded and the Draft Statutory Instrument has been released (pdf copy below). The Regulations have now been laid before Parliament in draft form for approval. They will be debated in both Houses in due course, and are intended to come into force on 6 April 2007

The CDB is especially concerned about the following:

7.3 It remains the prerogative of a veterinary surgeon as to whether he chooses to dock a dog’s tail or not. Vets are encouraged to dock the puppy’s tail and microchip them at the same time where they feel this is feasible.

The Docking of Working Dogs' Tails (England) Regulations 2007 pdf

Exemptions To Ban On Mutilation Of Dogs' Tails Are Branded "Shambolic" by the RSPCA

Newly published Government exemptions to a ban on the docking of dogs' tails have today been criticised as unnecessary and
unenforceable by the RSPCA.

The new regulations, set to become law in England on 6 April 2007, allow a vet to dock the tail of a working dog if its owner meets certain criteria and the dog is of a certain type. The docking of dogs' tails purely for the show ring will be outlawed.

The world's oldest animal welfare charity is dismayed at the ill-informed drafting of the exemption, which does not even require a stringent paper trail to ensure the regulations are not routinely breached. There are no plans in England to centrally hold the
certification issued when exempt dogs are docked.

"These new regulations are shambolic; there is absolutely no need to exempt tail docking for working dogs," said David McDowell, RSPCA Acting Chief Veterinary Adviser. "However docking is dressed up, it remains a painful and cosmetic amputation, which is all about tradition rather than the dog's welfare.

"These laughable regulations will be difficult to enforce and are littered with opportunities for abuse. The Government seems to believe Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Yorkshire terriers, for example, are working dogs and so able to be docked for that purpose."

Where relevant paperwork is produced to show the intention is to work dogs, the regulations allow the docking of all hunt point retrieve breeds or cross breeds; all spaniels or cross breeds; and all terriers or cross breeds. Yet not all pointers or retrievers, spaniels, and terriers are traditionally used as working dogs, nor are all of these types traditionally docked.

"In Scotland there will be a complete ban from 30 April on the unacceptable practice of docking a dog's tail, except when medically required after suffering injury or disease," said Mr McDowell. "Why England was unable to emulate this sound and scientifically-led stance, is deeply disappointing.

"We remain optimistic, however, that Wales will beat a more sensible and welfare-friendly path than Westminster has on this issue."



Peter Squires, CDB Chairman commented: ‘It seems that Mr McDowell and the RSPCA don’t like it when things don’t go exactly their way. We aren't happy with a tail docking ban in any form, but we have had to accept the exemption for working dogs as part of the new law, brought about by the democratic process we are all subject to.

‘The trouble with democracy is that sometimes you get the answer you don’t like and this is clearly the case for the RSPCA regarding the criteria that elected MPs set for the tail docking exemptions. They again issue the old chestnut that it is a 'painful and cosmetic amputation' despite DEFRA and Parliament, finding to the contrary.

‘We hear so much about Government intrusion into citizen’s private lives nowadays, so it is refreshing that the Government have not sought to over-complicate the exemption by seeking to impose intrusive measures that encroach on dog owners’ privacy with what the RSPCA term as ‘a more stringent paper trail’.

‘The CDB will continue to oppose the partial tail docking ban in England and the complete tail docking ban in Scotland through the correct legal and democratic processes and will naturally oppose any such measures that further could encroach on dog owner's civil liberties and human rights.’


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