Latest News - April 2000


The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has initiated a consultation to establish present opinion on whether the United Kingdom should sign and ratify the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. In a letter sent to a limited number of interested parties, it states that it is hoped that this will be of assistance to the Government in its forthcoming review.

The Convention was adopted in 1987 and amended in 1995. Among other things it requires Governments which ratify the Convention to prohibit the docking of tails, and to place substantial restrictions on the breeding of pet animals.

Signatories to the Convention may enter a reservation on Article 10 (tail docking) but may not reserve their positions with regard to the restrictions on animal breeding. In June 1998 the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Lord Williams of Mostyn, indicated that the UK Government, which is not a signatory to the Convention, would be reconsidering "at the end of the decade" whether or not it should sign.

The RCVS is clearly anxious to be absolved of its difficulties in determining the circumstances in which veterinary surgeons may dock dogs, a matter which would be quickly settled by UK accession to the Convention followed by a legal prohibition on tail docking. However, we submit that were the UK to sign and ratify the Convention, this would have very serious implications on those who breed dogs for show, and the breeding and working of gundogs and terriers for field sports and pest control, including the use of the hunt-point-retrieve breeds used widely in falconry.

We have indicated to the RCVS that other organisations have an interest in these matters, and have written to them to ensure that they are able to make a considered response to the RCVS, giving their views on the likely impact of UK accession to this Convention upon the interests of their members.

You might not be surprised to hear that the RCVS, which announced its consultation by letter on 18th April, has only given until 8th May for response. Noting that this brief period includes three bank holidays, and given that there is no Government pressure for views on this matter to be made clear, one may be excused for asking whether the RCVS is genuinely interested in a full and fair consultation by all interested parties.

The RCVS has invited comments from those they have decided are "interested parties". The CDB have submitted a further list of organisations THEY believe are also "interested parties"