Scotland on verge of retrograde step for animal welfare as Committee votes to reverse tail docking ban

13 June 2017

BVA has expressed disappointment at MSPs’ support for reversing the ban on tail docking in Scotland.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) has voted in favour of a motion to amend tail docking legislation in order to permit the docking of tails by up to a third in spaniels and hunt point retrievers.

The amendment will now be taken to a full chamber vote in the Scottish Parliament.

Seven members of the Committee voted in favour of allowing the painful procedure, which involves the cutting or crushing of muscle, nerves and bone in pups under 5 days old without anaesthetic, despite evidence indicating that this out-dated practice inflicts significant pain on puppies and deprives dogs of a vital form of canine expression in future life.

Speaking at the ECCLR’s evidence session on the motion, BVA Scottish Branch President and veterinary surgeon Melissa Donald reiterated the BVA position against tail docking and raised concerns as to the enforceability of the proposed legislation, which provides no means of proving that a young puppy of 5 days old will go on to be a working dog in later life.

Dr Donald also questioned the extent to which the prevalence of tail injuries in later life justifies a change in legislation.

Commenting on the vote, Melissa Donald, BVA Scottish Branch President, said: “We are saddened that the Committee voted in favour of reversing Scotland’s previously progressive stance on tail docking.

"Research commissioned by the Scottish Government suggests that up to 320 spaniel puppies would need to be docked to prevent one tail amputation. The prevalence of serious tail injury simply does not justify unnecessarily submitting puppies to this painful procedure.

“The Committee’s decision to vote in favour of tail docking amongst spaniels and hunt point retrievers marks the start of a retrograde step for animal welfare in Scotland. We urge MSPs to maintain Scotland’s position as a leader in animal welfare by safeguarding canine health and welfare when the legislation goes to a full chamber vote.”

BVA Media Office