Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
When lobbyists and politicians seem to be constantly proposing new regulations and restrictions it sometimes comes as a surprise when politics delivers the opposite. This week, however, the Scottish Government passed very sensible amendments to the ban on tail shortening to allow exemptions for specific breeds of working dog.
The evidence to support bringing Scottish legislation into line with England and Wales was clear. The Scottish government had commissioned research from Glasgow University which found that over half of working spaniels and a third of HPR breeds suffered tail damage each shooting season. The research also found that dogs that had had the final third of their tails removed were far less likely to sustain injuries.
As we are all too aware, however, politicians do not always need evidence to legislate, nor do they always legislate when there is evidence. The tendency to separate logic from legislation is particularly prevalent where animals are concerned so it is of particular credit to the SNP Government, and MSPs of other parties who supported this measure, that it acted on the clear findings of the research. The exemption will allow vets to remove the final third of the tail of spaniels and HPRs where when it is likely that the dog will be used for lawful sporting purposes.
The reaction to Tuesday’s vote was predictable. Animal rights organisations proved once again that they have little interest in animal welfare by ignoring the evidence of the suffering caused by the ban and making the usual wild claims about brutality and cruelty. There is, however, little correlation between the amount of noise such organisations make and the attitude that real people take. Research carried out by the Alliance during the election campaign showed how little impact animal rights campaigns have on the way people vote and should give politicians confidence that they, like the Scottish Parliament, can tackle animal welfare and wildlife management issues on the basis of the evidence.
Follow Tim @CA_TimB