Vets urge MPs to outlaw docking of puppies' tails

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The Independent Online

Vets and animal welfare groups want MPs to ban the "outdated and brutal" practice of docking dogs' tails.

Campaigners say the removal of puppies' tails is commonplace and often leads to death and serious injury. They say the dogs suffer severe pain at the hands of unscrupulous breeders, who may perform the task armed with little more than a pair of nail scissors. The procedure is normally done within the first five days of life and supporters of changing the law say it robs the animal of a vital means of communication and balance.

Despite a ban 10 years ago on non-vets carrying out the procedure, huge numbers of Jack Russells, boxers and rottweilers continue to be docked for cosmetic purposes.

The Kennel Club, which runs competitions such as Crufts, sets down guidelines for breeds which require the tail to be removed. Breeders believe they will be unable to sell puppies if they have not been docked.

Today the House of Commons is due to debate the Animal Welfare Bill, which campaigners say offers the opportunity to outlaw the practice as mutilation. The call is backed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the British Veterinary Association.

Campaigners said a new MORI poll showed that only 8 per cent of the public supported docking, with 75 per cent against.

Emma Milne, star of the BBC's Vets in Practice programme, said she was called upon to treat docked animals every day and compared the procedure to removing a child's tongue. She said many owners were horrified to learn what had been done to their animals.

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