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Ban on tail docking confirmed

07/02/2007

The docking of dogs' tails will be banned in Scotland from April 30, the Executive confirmed today.

Animal Health and Welfare Minister Ross Finnie said:

"Tail docking of dogs involves the removal of most or part of the tail, severing muscles, tendons, nerves and sometimes bone or cartilage. That cannot be justified because of a possibility that the dog may injure its tail in later life.

"A ban on tail docking is not a step which we have taken lightly. We consulted widely and have concluded that the arguments against docking outweigh those in its favour. Tail docking is opposed by the leading veterinary organisations and I'm clear that ending tail docking will improve animal welfare in Scotland."

The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act bans procedures which interfere with the bone structure or sensitive tissue of animals for non medical reasons. Regulations were today laid in Parliament which exempt a number of procedures from this general ban, such as ear tagging for livestock and micro chipping for pet animals.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association, the Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Scottish SPCA all oppose tail docking except where a tail is injured or diseased.

The penalty for docking a dog's tail will be a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Section 20 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 makes it an offence to perform a procedure on an animal which interferes with its the bone structure or sensitive tissue, unless it is a medical procedure or the procedure has been specifically exempted by Regulations made by Scottish Ministers.

The Executive consulted on procedures to be exempted from Section 20 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Section 20 shall not be commenced until the exempted procedures are agreed by Parliament.

Exempted procedures are mainly used by farmers to identify animals, to control reproduction, or for other animal welfare or handler safety reasons. Prophylactic tail docking of puppies has not been made an exempted procedure. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales does allow tail docking for certain working dogs.