The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has welcomed an exemption for working gundogs from a tail docking ban in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has approved the exemption under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. The regulations are due to come into effect on 1st January 2013.
The exemption covers spaniels, terriers and any other breeds used for hunting, pointing or retrieving. It also covers any combination of these breeds.
The prophylactic docking of specific breeds of working dog, such as spaniels, terriers and hunt, point retrievers is beneficial to the long term welfare of the animal as it prevents often painful and recurring tail injuries which can be distressing for both the dog and the owner.
There is a clear and genuine need to allow the docking of working dogs tails in order to reduce the risk of tail injury during the dog’s working life.
BASC NI director Tommy Mayne said: "BASC was the first organisation to give evidence to the Agriculture Committee back in September 2010 arguing for an exemption for working dogs from a ban on tail docking. We are delighted to see that an exemption has been approved which will come into effect on 1st January 2013. BASC is grateful for the assistance given by our members and our political representatives, particularly those members of the Agriculture Committee who recognised the benefits of tail docking for working dogs. Tail docking, when carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon, is clearly beneficial to the welfare of working dog as it prevents painful and often recurring injuries which can sometimes prove difficult to heal. In September 2011, BASC also responded to the Tail Docking Certification and Identification Regulations, which sought views on the evidence required by vets prior to docking and micro-chipping and we are pleased to see that our views have been taken on board by the department and the Minister.”