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Caithness News Bulletins March 2006

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McGrigor Calls For Executive Rethink On Tail Docking
The Scottish Executive must rethink its planned ban on tail docking, according to Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor.

Following a meeting at Parliament with Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg on Wednesday, the Conservative MSP, who has previously bred spaniels, has written to Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie urging an exemption for working dogs.

Jamie McGrigor said "Many constituents across the Highlands and Islands have contacted me with their concerns over the possible banning of tail shortening for specialist breeds of working dogs such as spaniels, terriers and pointers.

"The Executive's plans are causing particular concern amongst land and wildlife management professionals and, as someone who's bred Springer Spaniels myself, I know there is a real risk of increased suffering for dogs if this ban goes ahead.

"It comes despite an exemption for working dogs in England and Wales and despite the Scottish Executive originally planning such an exemption for Scotland. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with this Executive, they have now changed their minds and u-turned on the issue, and we risk having the ridiculous situation where the law differs across the UK.

"This ban won't just affect privately owned dogs and I would be interested to know what representations the Executive have had from police and rescue services about the welfare of the spaniels they use in often dangerous and confined situations.

"Working professionals are devoted to their dogs and would never do anything to deliberately cause them pain. By tail shortening in infancy, they are only trying to protect the welfare of their dogs in adulthood. This Animal Welfare Bill should help them to do this rather than the reverse".