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SPCA criticises dropping of dog-tail bill

Thursday, 23 August, 2007

New Zealand is now woefully lagging behind other developed countries on this animal welfare standard, says SPCA New Zealand, following Parliament's decision to drop the bill banning dog-tail docking.

The proposed legislation, originally introduced by Labour MP, Dianne Yates, would have banned tail-docking, except in cases where it was deemed essential for the dog's welfare, if the tail had been damaged by disease or injury.

Last week, Parliament's Government Administration Committee recommended that the bill be dropped, due to lack of support from both Labour and National parties.

"We understand that the current political climate might be unsympathetic to legislation of this type. Even so, we are extremely disappointed that this long overdue measure has been halted," says the SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"Legislation banning dog tail-docking has been passed in the United Kingdom, Australia and at least nine European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium. New Zealand is well behind internationally-accepted standards on this issue.

"Tail-docking is one of a fast-growing list of animal welfare issues that we will be judged by in the international arena. It is a significant issue and our failure to deal with it could be seen as indicative of our unwillingness to improve welfare standards across the board.

"In February 2005, a massive 68% of those polled told a Colmar Brunton Survey that they favoured a ban. New Zealanders are not foolish. Increasingly, the public recognises that tails are docked for purely cosmetic reasons at the will of the breeder and that the process is painful, often deleterious to the dogs' health and inhibits natural behaviour.

"Breeders traditionally argued that tail-docking was needed to enable their dogs to compete in shows. However, breeders had nothing to lose from the proposed ban, as local and international show standards no longer require docking. Indeed, only a minority of breeders were opposed to the bill.

"In the long run, tail-docking will be banned because the public, including dog owners, veterinarians and most dog breeders, want it banned. It is a great pity that the health and happiness of further generations of dogs is to be undermined whilst Parliament delays this necessary reform," she says.

Robyn Kippenberger adds that the SPCA will continue to work for a ban on taildocking and will meanwhile urge breeders to drop the practice voluntarily.