The Kennel Club (KC) and Scottish Kennel Club (SKC) have welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of a set of measures which will be introduced to protect and improve dog welfare. Both the KC and SKC are pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to the views of both organisations on issues which they have been campaigning on for a number of years.
The KC and SKC fully support the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce an exemption for working dogs under their tail docking regulations, which will allow for certain working dogs to be docked at birth to avoid tail injury in later life.
Despite the growing evidence that exists on tail injuries sustained by working dogs in Scotland, the Kennel Club is the only national dog welfare organisation that has lobbied for such an exemption. It has been successful in putting these facts over to the Scottish Government, and commends the Scottish Executive for reviewing its tail docking regulations with the welfare of working dogs at the forefront of their decision making.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Whilst we support UK-wide bans on tail docking for aesthetic reasons alone, we have long been disappointed that, unlike in England and Wales, the Scottish Executive did not make any exemptions for working dogs when they banned tail docking under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act.
“However we are heartened that our views, supported by the evidence on the tail injuries sustained by working dogs, have been taken on board by the Minister and that an exemption for working dogs will be introduced. This is undoubtedly the right decision and the Minister has the full support of the Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club.”
The Scottish Government has also announced a ban on the use of electric shock collars unless used under the guidance of an ‘authorised’ person, which will help to significantly limit the use of these devices other than in extreme circumstances.
While the Kennel Club has lobbied for a total ban on the sale and use of such devices, given the mounting evidence that they are used inconsistently even when under supervision and have a negative effect on dog welfare, both the KC and SKC believe the regulations due to be introduced by the Scottish Government will send a strong message to Scottish dog owners that training a dog with an electric shock stimulus should be an exception and should not be considered to be ‘the norm’.
Caroline Kisko said: "We firmly believe that positive, reward based training methods are far more effective in correcting unwanted behaviour, which is often the reason cited for their use. Some of the country's best trained dogs, such as police dogs trained by Police Scotland, are trained without the use of these devices, which goes to show how unnecessary they are.
"While we would prefer to see an outright ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars in Scotland, as was introduced in Wales a few years ago, the move by the Scottish Government does send a clear message that these are not devices that should be widely used and the new laws will undoubtedly help to reduce their use and make them harder to get hold of. It is important however that the Scottish Government specifies exactly who will be considered an 'authorised' person to ensure that any new laws being brought in are as effective and enforceable as possible.”