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Animal welfare
Scotland to allow docking of working dogs' tails

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THE Scottish Government is to modify legislation banning the tail docking of dogs to permit the tails of spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies to be shortened where a vet believes that they are likely to be used as working dogs and risk serious tail injury in later life.

An outright ban on docking dogs' tails has been in place in Scotland since the introduction of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government consulted on proposals to introduce a ‘tightly defined exemption’, which would permit spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies to be docked if they were intended to be used as working dogs. It proposed allowing the docking, by up to a maximum of one third in length, of the tails of working spaniels and hunt point retrievers before they were no more than five days old. Veterinary surgeons would be allowed to dock a tail only where they had been provided with sufficient evidence that the dog would be used for working purposes in future and where, in their professional judgement, the pain of docking was outweighed by the possible avoidance of more serious injuries later in life.

The Scottish Government published a summary of the responses it received to the consultation on its website on October 4. It reported that 906 responses were received, of which 873 came from individuals and 33 from organisations. The largest group of respondents was keepers of working dogs. A large majority (92 per cent) …

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