Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland outlaws docking dog tails

Gun dog
Image caption There will be some exceptions for working dogs

A new law banning the docking of dogs' tails has come into effect in Northern Ireland.

Many pedigree dog breeders cut pups' tails when they are a few days old for cosmetic reasons.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill brought the legislation to the assembly last year and described docking as a "hideous practice".

Exemptions are made for some working dogs and in emergencies where a dog's life may be in danger.

It also outlaws taking a dog to another jurisdiction to have its tail docked.

An exemption from the ban is available for potential future working dogs such a spaniels, terriers, pointers, retrievers and dogs for use by the armed services but they can only be docked by a vet and within five days of birth.

From now on, any person buying a dog with a docked tail in Northern Ireland will need a certificate stating that the reason for the docking was because it was a potential working dog.

There is also a ban on the showing of dogs docked after the introduction of the ban.

Any person convicted of illegally having the tail of a dog docked could face a maximum of two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Tail docking was banned in England, Wales and Scotland in 2006.

The British Veterinary Association has been an opponent of the practice, unless medically necessary.