The Scottish Countryside Alliance has called for changes to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to include a working dog exemption in relation to tail docking. This call is made as Scottish Government commissioned research into the incidences of tail damage in working dogs is due to be published. Under the Act there is a total ban on non-therapeutic docking of dogs, with no provision made for working dogs. This is at odds with the rest of the UK where tail docking legislation exists but carries exemptions for docking certain breeds of working dog. England, Wales and Northern Ireland have similar exemptions for working dogs, but Scotlandâ€™s total ban remains.
Working dogs often suffer tail damage in the field where long tails can get caught, snagged and in some cases torn in undergrowth, causing unnecessary suffering to the animal. The damage caused is more susceptible to future injury and infection, and often requires the medical amputation of the tail in order to prevent further complications.
Research commissioned by the Scottish Government, aimed at providing evidence for a review of the docking of working dogs, is about to be published. Early indications suggest the research supports a change in law to prevent animals suffering through repeated damage to undocked tails. A Government spokesman has stated â€œWe commissioned research from the University of Glasgow looking at the incidence of tail injuries in working dogs in Scotland, specifically spaniels, hunt point retrievers and terriers. The project has now been completed and the results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.”
Countryside Alliance Director for Scotland, Jamie Stewart, said: â€œThe legislation we have is completely out of sync with the rest of the UK: Northern Ireland, England and Wales have listened to the case for working dog exemptions. The Scottish Countryside Alliance and other rural stakeholders who represent sporting interests will continue to press for a review of the Act and will read the new research with interest. Animal welfare considerations mean a working dog exemption in Scotland is the only way forward.â€
For more information call Jamie Stewart on 07825 736903