A puppy’s tail is an extension of his backbone and he needs it for movement, communication and behaviour. Cutting off part of a puppy’s tail, made up of skin, bone, muscle, nerves and cartilage, causes pain to that animal.
This week, while we await publication of research by the University of Glasgow, we have seen an anecdote-fuelled storm in the media, calling for a change in the law so puppies of working breeds can have their tails docked.
The argument is that working dogs, such as spaniels, can suffer injuries as adults that cause them long-term distress and pain and sometimes lead to amputation of the tail.
Gun dogs can suffer all kinds of injuries while working, affecting their ears, eyes, muzzles, abdomens, legs, paws and other parts. Nobody wants to see tail injuries added to that list. But any proposal to revert to the old way – avoiding the problem by cutting off the body part – must involve full consideration of both the pain of docking and the longer-term consequences.
It is dismaying that these are being ignored, and animal welfare will not be served by failing to account for all of the relevant issues.