Latest News - December 2000

AVA Media Release: 29 November 2000

ACT leads the way with Australia's first law banning cosmetic tail docking

The Australian Veterinary Association today praised the unanimous decision of the ACT Legislative Assembly to legally ban cosmetic tail docking of dogs. The AVA President, Dr Ian Denney, said: "This decision should pave the way for follow-up action by all other States and the Northern Territory to put an end to this cruel and unnecessary practice. "Our organisation, which represents the majority of veterinarians across Australia, has long campaigned against cosmetic tail docking because it serves no valid purpose. "It really is a traditional practice based, essentially, on the whims and fashion ideas of human beings. "What really happens is that young puppies are butchered, usually without any form of anaesthetic or pain relief, by having all or part of their tail chopped-off. It is often done by dog breeders with a pair of scissors!" he said.

Dr Denney said the ACT ban stemmed from the sensible actions of the ACT Minister for Urban Services, Mr Brendan Smyth, after be was contacted by an overseas organisation which promotes this form of cruelty. "That body wrote to Mr Smyth complaining about our anti-docking brochure.

The Minister then requested the AVA publication, read it and decided he had no ethical choice but to ban cosmetic tail docking. "He incorporated the ban into a package of animal welfare legislation and then called for an extended period of public comment on those measures.

During that comment period the AVA waged a nationwide campaign of support for the docking ban. "This proved beyond doubt that the previous 'political wisdom' that the docking advocates were a large and well-organised rump was totally wrong. "We deliberately chose not to have petitions or form letters in our campaign - we wanted individuals from all parts of Australia to write their own messages of support to Mr Smyth. Those responses swamped the orchestrated efforts of the pro-dockers. "Our campaign also persuaded the ACT Labor Opposition to publicly declare its support for the docking ban, which ensured it had to pass through the Assembly", Dr Denney said.

End of quote

CDB Comment - Shallow Victory?

This is not a Federal ban, but just involves the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Canberra.

Canberra is only a very small Territory located in the middle of NSW and populated mostly by Public Servants. The AVA targetted Canberra because they knew they wouldn't receive much resistance. The meeting only attracted about 20 concerned Canberra Canine Control members, and the Minister, seeing that there was not much support, ruled in favour of the anti-docking legislation.

But is the thin end of the wedge?

Tail docking is on the agenda in a review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in Victoria which is likely to go through in the Autumn sitting of Parliament if unopposed. Western Australia is also looking at legislation and a ban could go through there as it has the support of both houses.

Australian breeders need to campaign hard and long in order to retain the docking option. An Australian version of the CDB is being formed.