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MSPs re-examine docking of working dogs' tails as exemptions drafted

12 May 2017

Should it be legal to shorten a puppy’s tail to prevent painful injury? MSPs on a Holyrood Committee have launched a call for evidence to help the re-examine the question.

The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee is inviting views from the public on whether or not Scotland should lift the current ban on tail shortening, to allow two breeds of working dogs – spaniels and hunt point retrievers, to have their tails removed by up to a third within five days of being born.

Shortening or "docking" of dogs’ tails has been banned in Scotland since 2007, but draft regulations under consideration, the Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, would permit puppies to have their tails shortened where a vet believes they are likely to be used as a working dog and are at risk of serious tail injury in later life. 

Opponents say the procedure is unnecessary and cruel, and impacts on the dog's ability to express itself by wagging its tail.

Committee convener of the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee Graeme Dey MSP commented: “Scotland is a country of dog lovers and we know that there are many people out there with strong views both for and against the shortening of working dogs’ tails.

“We’re keen to hear the thoughts of the public, interest groups and dog owners across Scotland on the specific provisions of the draft regulations to help us consider whether or not changes to tail docking laws should be made.

There is currently an exemption for tail docking in England & Wales for certain working dogs if carried out by a vet. It is also permitted in Northern Ireland for the strict purposes of medical treatment or dogs that are intended to be used for work in law enforcement, pest control or lawful shooting of animals.

Click here to view the call for evidence. Submissions are due by 12 noon on 1 June 2017.

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