Thanks to the Scotsman for this update on how the new law against tail-docking is working out in Scotland.
Breeders slip the leash and take dogs south for tail-docking
SCOTTISH POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
DOG-BREEDERS are evading Scottish laws by sending their animals south of the Border to have their tails docked.
The traditional practice of cutting puppies’ tails was outlawed in Scotland this year.
But a loophole in the law means breeders can take pregnant bitches to England, where docking is still legal.
British dog trial champion Jim Clark is one of the breeders to send a bitch to England so the pups’ tails can be docked.
He argued that the puppies, which sell for up to 750 because they are bred from field trial champions, have to be docked for their own good as they are going to work in the undergrowth.
“It is what we have to do to keep the dogs breeding and keep the sport going,” he said.
Leslie Scott-Clark is another breeder unashamed to be sending a bitch south.
He said breeders would be unable to sell undocked dogs and make money from the hobby, therefore ancient bloodlines and field sports in Scotland would suffer.
“This is about the future of working cockers; it is about rural life; it is about life in the countryside,” he added.
The move is the latest example of people moving across the Border to take advantage of differences in the law.
Before the smoking ban in England, people went south to enjoy a cigarette with a pint. Students from England have been known to come north to take advantage of lower tuition fees, while differences in implementing the ban on fox-hunting has led to cross-Border movement. Experts said the problem could get worse with a different political party in charge in Scotland.
The latest disparity has arisen over the Animal Welfare Bill. The legislation, which became law in late April, outlaws tail-dockings. However, the Scottish Executive yesterday confirmed it is not illegal to take a pregnant animal south of the Border to have the puppies tails docked and then return to Scotland.
James Scott, the Scottish policy officer for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said dog-breeders in Scotland were always going to take advantage of the loophole.
“I knew this was something that was going to be done,” Mr Scott said.
“It certainly cannot be an improvement in animal welfare, because moving pregnant bitches is not a good idea.”
Alex Hogg, of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said breeders are going to continue to do what they believe is best for their dogs.
He said: “It is ridiculous to have different laws in such a small country as the UK.”
Professor John Curtice, the professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said that tail-docking is only the latest example of a number of laws that are different on each side of the Border since devolution.
He said: “Both sides of the Border have had to deal with the potential consequences of differences in policy, for example on higher education. Where it becomes a problem is where it is possible to evade the law in one part of the UK by nipping across the Border to another.”
However, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said transporting dogs made a “mockery of the law”.
A spokeswoman added: “The Scottish SPCA would always wish to see those flouting animal welfare laws prosecuted, but it is very difficult to do so if a procedure banned in Scotland is carried out in a country where it remains legal.”