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SPCA Says Tail Docking Bill Long Overdue


For release: 3 February 2004


The Royal New Zealand SPCA has announced its "unqualified and unambiguous" support for a bill to ban tail docking.

The Private Member's Bill, introduced to Parliament by Hamilton MP, Diane Yates, aims to amend the Animal Welfare Act to effectively end cosmetic and prophylactic tail docking for both dogs and horses.

The legislation would, however, allow docking where, in a veterinarian's opinion, the procedure is necessary for the animals' welfare and where the tail has been damaged by injury or disease.

"Our support for this proposed strengthening of our country's animal welfare legislation is unqualified and unambiguous. This is a long-overdue measure and we congratulate Dianne Yates on placing the matter before Parliament," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's Chief Executive, Peter Blomkamp.

"We do understand that tail docking is supported by many who genuinely love animals and we are also aware that docking is regarded as traditional for many dog breeds and some types of horse. But tradition was never a good enough reason for continuing practices which are painful and cruel.

"Tails are there for a purpose. A tailless dog lacks one of the primary canine means of expressing emotion and might also suffer from impaired balance. Similarly, horses without tails can endure considerable aggravation and discomfort as a result of not being able to swot the summer flies away," he says.

Mr Blomkamp adds that tail docking is now banned in the United Kingdom and parts of continental Europe and that a similar ban is shortly to be implemented in Australia.

"If the bill is not passed, New Zealand will, yet again, be seen as having lower animal welfare standards than other developed countries. This cannot be good for our national reputation," he says, adding that the SPCA would like to see the ban extended to the tail-docking of cows and other livestock.

Dianne Yates's bill is also supported by the New Zealand Veterinary Association.


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