RSPCA fail to prove docking to be cruel

Magistrates in Llanelli heard on Friday (21 November 1997), that Mrs Deborah Jones had docked the tails of her litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies. Mrs Jones pleaded guilty to the charge, under the 1954 Veterinary Surgeons Act, of performing veterinary surgery whilst unregistered. However the RSPCA, who brought the prosecution, alleged in addition that the tail docking was a cruel act and therefore in breach of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act.

After hearing evidence from our Veterinary Advisor Donna McDougall and South Eastern England Delegate Chris Tonkyn, the court decided that the docking which Mrs Jones had performed was not in itself cruel, and dismissed the charge.

Naturally, we were very pleased with the courts decision. We do not condone docking by non-veterinarians, but it must be made quite clear that, provided it is properly carried out, the act of docking itself does not constitute cruelty. The court supported that view.

The RSPCA must have been perfectly well aware that their allegations of cruelty flew in the face both of accepted veterinary opinion, and of the evidence in this case. This was an ill-judged prosecution brought not on merit but on grounds of ideology, and the RSPCA richly deserved to lose. If nothing else, perhaps one day they will realise that after six years of campaigning, we have not only built up a wealth of information supporting the case for docking, but we have also built up a network of specialists who know the case intimately and can defend our case passionately.