A PETITION calling on the Scottish Government to reverse the ban on tail docking for working dogs has been submitted by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.
The group said many dogs are having to suffer agonising tail injuries while working in thick undergrowth since the ban was imposed in the country in 2007. There is also a ban in England and Wales, but it does not apply to working dogs because of the risk of injury to dogs while they are retrieving game birds from thick brambles or gorse.
The petition calling for the law to be reviewed was delivered to Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead last week. The gamekeepers say they are happy for docking to be banned ‘for cosmetic reasons’, but argue that an exemption for working dogs in Scotland is long overdue, and was promised by First Minister Alex Salmond several years ago.
They point to research by Glasgow University, which has yet to be published, which they say will show the extent of tail injuries suffered by working dogs since 2007.
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, told local reporters: "This is just for working dogs, especially hunt-point retrievers and spaniels. We need to change this legislation. It is really bad for animal welfare. I had to buy a puppy south of the border last year because there was absolutely no way I was going to put her through the pain that might be inflicted by a long tail.”
Libby Anderson of the animal protection charity OneKind said: "Docking puppies may appear to be a simple procedure but it still causes pain and distress to very young animals. If the Scottish Government is to change the law it will have to have irrefutable evidence that routine use of this mutilation on puppies would definitely prevent suffering in adult working dogs. Until the research is published, and correctly interpreted, we do not have such evidence.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Animal welfare is extremely important and any decision taken by the Scottish Government fully considers the welfare of each and every animal affected. That is why the legislation was brought in to protect dogs from the suffering caused by unnecessary docking and why – when the issue was raised with us – we then funded research into tail injuries in undocked working dogs. We expect that research to be published in the next few weeks and it will provide a sound basis to discuss whether further action needs to be taken to protect working dogs from injury.”