Vote to be held on plan to end ban on tail docking for dogs

The changes would allow docking on two breeds of dogs. Picture; Neil Hanna
The changes would allow docking on two breeds of dogs. Picture; Neil Hanna
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MSPs will vote later on proposals to end the outright ban on tail docking for dogs in Scotland.

The legislative changes to create exemptions for two breeds would allow vets to shorten the tails of spaniels and hunt point retrievers by up to a third when they are puppies up to five days old.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association backs the changes, saying it is a “progressive, evidence-based step for animal welfare” as it would prevent tail injuries in working dogs.

Animal welfare charities, including OneKind Scotland, are calling on MSPs to reject the proposals.

Libby Anderson, Policy Adviser to OneKind, said: “Reintroducing tail-docking would be a backwards step for animal welfare in Scotland.

READ MORE: Scotland nears ending outright ban on tail docking for dogs

“We urge all MSPs to listen to the Scottish public, to veterinary organisations and to animal welfare charities, all of whom overwhelmingly oppose this proposal.”

The Scottish Government brought in the ban on tail docking in 2007 as part of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which also makes it illegal to take a dog out of Scotland to have its tail removed.

While other parts of the UK have a ban on docking, there are exemptions for working dogs including spaniels, hunt point retrievers and terriers.

The parliamentary vote on Wednesday follows Holyrood’s Environment Committee passing the changes by seven votes to three last week, with Green and Labour members against the changes and SNP and the Conservatives in favour.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told the committee evidence shows these types of gun dogs are at increased risk of injury without having their tails docked.

She said: “The regulations also ensure as far as is reasonably possible that only dogs likely to be used for lawful shooting purposes can have their tails shortened and that veterinarians are the only persons who may carry out the procedure.”

READ MORE: Scotland’s ban on tail docking of dogs lifted

The vet must be satisfied they have sufficient evidence to show the animal will be used as a working dog in later life.

She denied the Government was opening up a loophole in the law - crediting the narrow focus on specific breeds - despite saying some puppies with shortened tails would “clearly” end up as pets.

A total of 92% of those who took part in a Government consultation supported docking for the two specified breeds.