UNDER the Animal Welfare Bill, MPs will soon be voting on whether to ban the tail docking of dogs. They may vote for an exemption on the tail docking of gundogs – at which the RSPCA, British Veterinary Association and other animal welfare groups are outra
UNDER the Animal Welfare Bill, MPs will soon be voting on whether to ban the tail docking of dogs. They may vote for an exemption on the tail docking of gundogs - at which the RSPCA, British Veterinary Association and other animal welfare groups are outraged.
All docking is painful, unnecessary and deprives a dog of its best means of expression. There is no scientific evidence to say any breed of dog is more prone to tail injury than another, so no such exemption should be allowed.
Docking means the surgical amputation of all or part of a tail by cutting or crushing a puppy's skin, muscles, up to seven pairs of nerves, and bone and cartilage - and is carried out without anaesthetic on puppies that are able to feel pain.
No one can tell if a dog will ever injure its tail severely enough to warrant an amputation. Yet all or most dogs of traditionally docked breeds are robbed of a tail - and with it the ability to communicate properly - 'just in case' a tiny percentage might need surgery in later life.
No one would think to amputate a baby's finger 'just in case' the child hurt it in the future. Nor a cat's tail, even though vets treat these for injury more often than dogs' tails.
There can never be a guarantee that a puppy will become a gun dog (in training they may be gun shy) so an exemption would be unenforceable - as well as nonsensical from a welfare point of view.
The worst injury that can be inflicted on a dog's tail is to remove it - so this option should be allowed only after the tail has suffered severe injury or disease, and when all other veterinary treatment has failed to heal it.
Readers who want to see an end to this unnecessary and painful practice should contact their MP. For information on how, visit www.rspca.org.uk/animalwelfarebill
TIM MILES, RSPCA chief veterinary adviser