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Publication - Research Publication

Analysis of Responses to the Consultation on the Proposal to Permit Tail Docking of Working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

Published: 4 Oct 2016
Part of:
Farming and rural, Research
ISBN:
9781786524836

Analysis of responses to the consultation on tail-docking.

41 page PDF

615.2kB

41 page PDF

615.2kB

Contents
Analysis of Responses to the Consultation on the Proposal to Permit Tail Docking of Working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers
Business Impact

41 page PDF

615.2kB

Business Impact

The Scottish Government is keen to understand the likely commercial impact if they were to introduce legislation to allow the tail docking of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers. All respondents were asked to say whether they had a commercial interest in the breeding, sale or use of working dogs.

Commercial interest

As shown in table 10, only small proportions of respondents had a commercial interest in the breeding or sale of working dogs, although a larger proportion (40%) had a commercial interest in the use of working dogs.

Table 10: Whether respondents have a commercial interest in the breeding, sale or use of working dogs

Yes
(%)
No
(%)
No response
(%)
Commercial interest - breeding 14 79 7
Commercial interest - sale 10 80 10
Commercial interest - Use 40 57 3

** Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding

The impact of the current total ban on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

As table 11 demonstrates, regardless of their involvement in commercial interests in the breeding, sale or use of working dogs, higher proportions of respondents claimed that the current total ban on tail docking has had a negative financial impact on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers. Around two in three respondents claimed there was a negative financial impact, compared to only around one in six or less saying this had not had a negative financial impact.

Table 11: Whether the current total ban has had a negative financial impact on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers in Scotland

Yes
(%)
No
(%)
No response
(%)
Breeding 62 15 23
Sale 66 12 22
Use 64 14 23

** Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding

Among individuals, lower proportions of members of the general public and veterinary surgeons / nurses / animal scientists claimed there has been a negative impact across these areas of commercial interest than individuals such as keepers or breeders of working dogs in other sectors.

Reasons for the negative financial impact on breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

Respondents were invited to provide an explanation for their response to these questions and 548 did so. The key reason given by 62% of respondents was that they were personally buying or knew that others were buying docked dogs outwith Scotland. A number of comments referred to Scottish breeders in some way or other, with 25% claiming that some Scottish breeders were no longer breeding their dogs and / or that it is difficult to sell undocked dogs; 13% noted that long lines of Scottish bred dogs are being lost as there is no longer a market for working dogs in Scotland, and 11% referred to a financial impact on Scottish breeders and thereby the Scottish economy.

Under one in five (17%) also noted that they or others would not buy or work undocked dogs. Once again, there was reference to tail injuries in undocked dogs, which was cited by 12% of respondents.

Table 12: Reasons for a negative financial impact on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

Total
(%)
Organisations
(%)
Individuals
(%)
I / others buying docked dogs outwith Scotland that are legally docked 62 50 62
Some Scottish breeders no longer breeding their dogs / difficult to sell undocked dogs 25 50 25
I / others will not purchase / work undocked dogs 17 14 17
Loss of long lines of Scottish bred dogs / no longer market in Scotland for working dogs bred in Scotland 13 14 13
Have seen tail injuries to undocked dogs / likely to suffer injury 12 21 11
Financial impact on breeders / Scottish economy 11 43 10

** Figures do not add to 100% because respondents could give as many answers as they wished

A number of other comments were also made by 6% or less of respondents and these included:

  • The issue of expensive / costly vets bills for undocked dogs (6%).
  • That Scottish breeders are sending their bitches to England for whelping (6%).
  • References to being pro-tail docking (6%).
  • That some people are using or purchasing other breeds of dog or that there has been a decline in the number of working Spaniels (5%).
  • There should be less focus on commercialism and more on animal welfare (3%).

A typical comment covering a number of the issues raised by respondents was "Many working dog owners have either had to travel outwith Scotland to purchase a working breed as they refuse to work an undocked dog. Many working dog owners have refused to breed their dogs due to not being able to dock the puppies as people simply will not buy them. Some very good dog lines have been lost due to this. Many people will not work an undocked dog and will not travel hundreds of miles to purchase one." (Keeper)

The personal impact of the current total ban on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

Having ascertained views on the current total ban on tail docking and whether this has had a negative financial impact on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers, the next question in the consultation paper asked respondents whether the current ban has had a negative impact on them personally, and whether this was linked to the sale of working dogs, working days lost through injury or other reasons.

As shown in table 13, just over a quarter (28%) of respondents claimed the current total ban on the commercial breeding, sale or use of working Spaniels or Hunt Point Retrievers had a negative financial impact for them personally; among individuals, this figure was highest among breeders of working dogs (38%) and game keepers (43%).

A smaller proportion of respondents (12%) claimed the total ban has resulted in a loss of dog sales; not surprisingly this was highest among breeders of working dogs.

Around a third (33%) claimed that the impact on them personally had led to a loss of dog working days. Not surprisingly, this was highest among gamekeepers (55%) and keepers of working dogs (40%).

Just under one in five respondents (19%) noted there had been other impacts on them as a result of the total current ban.

Table 13: Reasons for a negative financial impact personally

Yes
(%)
No
(%)
Don't know / No response
(%)
Ban has had a negative financial impact on me 28 63 9
Impact includes loss of dog sales 12 75 13
Impact includes loss of dog working days 33 57 10
Other impacts 19 46 35

** Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding

Respondents were also given the opportunity to provide an explanation for their response to this question. Around a quarter noted that working dogs cannot work with damaged tails or that work days are lost due to injury (24%), or that they have had vets' bills to pay because of injuries or amputations (23%).

The issue of purchasing docked dogs was raised by around one in seven respondents who commented that they or others have travelled to England to obtain docked working dogs (14%) or that it is more expensive to purchase working dogs outwith Scotland (14%). What is England's gain is Scotland's loss, and similar proportions also commented that they or other breeders have lost revenue from the sale of undocked dogs because buyers are unwilling to take undocked dogs (13%) or that there has been a loss of Scottish breeding lines (13%).

Once again, there was some reiteration of points already raised such as the pain or stress caused to dogs by tail injuries (8%), that there is an increased risk of injury to undocked dog tails (6%), or that there should be less focus on commercial aspects and more on the welfare of dogs (3%).

Impact of exemption to the current ban on business

The next question in the consultation paper asked 'What effect do you think that an exemption to the current ban for working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers is likely to bring to your business, particularly on the expected sale of working dogs, working days lost through injury, the costs of tail docking or other reasons?'.

As demonstrated in table 14, over a quarter (28%) claimed that overall financial benefits to them would increase and almost a third (31%) that working dog sales would increase for them. Almost two in five (37%) claimed that the loss of dog working days from injury would decrease. Similar proportions of respondents noted that the cost of tail docking would increase for them (11%) as would decrease (12%). Across individual sub-groups, higher proportions of breeders and game keepers noted benefits to themselves.

Table 14: Impact of an exemption to the current ban for working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers

Increase
(%)
Decrease
(%)
Not change
(%)
N/A
(%)
Overall financial benefits would …. 28 1 18 53
Working dog sales would …. 31 1 15 53
Loss of dog working days from injury would …. 8 37 9 45
Cost of tail docking would …. 11 12 26 51
Other impacts would …. 3 6 15 76

** Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding

Of the 227 respondents who provided commentary on their response to this question, the highest single response of 27% was that there would be no financial impact on them because they were not a business or not resident in Scotland.

Around one in five respondents (19%) noted they would be able to source working dogs in Scotland or that there would be increased sales of Scottish working dog puppies. Similar proportions commented that this would lead to improved animal welfare and decreased discomfort, pain or stress to dogs (17%) or that there would be fewer lost working days (15%).

There was some specific reference to the breeding of dogs in Scotland, with just over one in ten (13%) noting they or others could start breeding in Scotland again, and 10% that this would protect Scottish breeding lines. A further 7% noted they would be able to sell their working dog litters in Scotland.

Other advantages included fewer vets' bills (11%), they would no longer spend time and cost to travel outwith Scotland to purchase docked puppies (8%), that there would be fewer tail injuries or less likelihood of receiving tail injuries (6%) or that this would be of benefit to the Scottish economy or businesses in the sector (4%).

As one breeder noted, "Breeders in Scotland would have an increase in demand for their puppies, buyers would not have to travel as far. Beaters and pickers up would have the dogs so would be more in demand so thus resulting in financial gains and although there would be an initial cost of docking and micro chipping the puppies it is nothing compared to the cost of correcting a damaged tail on an older dog what with medication, operation and anaesthetic."

Any further comments

The final question about the possible exemption to tail docking of working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers asked 'do you have any other comments on whether Scottish Ministers should introduce a tightly defined exemption to the ban on tail docking for working Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers?'

Comments made by 10% or more of the 389 who commented are shown in table 15. To a large degree, comments made in response to this question echoed comments seen at earlier questions, with calls from 27% to introduce the exemption for the welfare of working dogs; 15% also noted that tail docking reduces suffering or stops unnecessary pain. There were also some comments that there should not be a tightly defined exemption but that tail docking should be introduced for all working dogs (11%) or that tail docking should be introduced for extended breeds (10%). Around one in ten respondents (11%) asked for the same system to be introduced as exists in the rest of the UK. A similar proportion was anti-tail docking (10%).

There were also references from smaller proportions of respondents for the provision of proof that a dog will be a working dog, that the consultation focuses too heavily on commercialism rather than the welfare of working dogs and that research does or does not back up the issue of docking dogs tails.

Table 15: Any other comments on whether Scottish Ministers should introduce a tightly defined exemption

Total
(%)
Organisations
(%)
Individuals
(%)
Introduce tail docking / for animal welfare, wellbeing of dog 27 8 28
Tail docking reduces suffering / stops unnecessary injury 15 4 16
Listen to the views of those who work with dogs 13 13 13
Introduce same system as England / bring in line with rest of UK 11 13 11
Should not have tight exemption / introduce tail docking for all working dogs 11 4 11
Introduce docking for extended breeds eg domestic pets / gundogs recognised by Kennel club 10 8 10
Do not allow tail docking / against animal welfare 10 46 7

** Figures do not add to 100% because respondents could give as many answers as they wish


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