Should you be allowed to mutilate your dog for your hobby?

Sarah Moyes's avatar
Sarah Moyes
26 May 2017

We don’t think so, but that’s exactly what the Scottish Government is proposing. In 2007 Scotland took a big step forward and banned all tail docking in dogs, but now they want to reintroduce it for some dogs. They are calling it “tail shortening for working dogs”, but let’s be clear what they mean:

Puppies tails will be cut off so that they can be used by people who shoot birds for fun to retrieve the carcasses.They complain that if they’re not allowed to do this they might injure their tail if they’re sent into gorse or other thick cover. The fact that they should not be putting their dog in such a dangerous situation in the first place seems lost on them.

You need to cut off, or, as it is being rebranded by the Scottish Government, to ‘shorten’, the tails of 320 spaniels to prevent an injury that would require tail amputation. Tail docking causes pain and can lead to long-term problems. It also limits a dog’s ability to communicate by, for example, wagging its tail.

No mainstream veterinary group or animal welfare organisation is supporting the Scottish Government’s proposal. The Vet Record journal this week is reporting that the proposal has been met with “strong resistance from across the profession”, including the BVA and the BSAVA. They also carried a frank and powerful quote from David Morton, European veterinary specialist in animal welfare science, ethics: 

‘They are not taking into account all the puppies that will undergo the pain and suffering of docking against the lower number that are used for hunting and that may require later treatment, which will nearly always be under an anaesthetic to prevent them feeling pain… Animal welfare would appear therefore to be a low priority for Scotland over the human pleasure gained through hunting.’

This is the crux of the proposal. The Scottish Government are proposing to put the interests of a hobby ahead of animal protection and against the advice of veterinary and animal welfare groups. As one Glasgow University researcher involved in research into tail injuries in working dogs commissioned by the Scottish Government puts it: 

“Engaging in a hobby or lifestyle that frequently results in tail and non-tail injuries and would benefit from removal of parts of the tail is ethically debatable in itself”

If you want more information you can read about the Scottish Government’s proposal and why we believe it would be a step backwards in full in our report

comments powered by Disqus

Saving Scotland's Foxes with Hessilhead