Tail Docking and other legislation updates:
As of October 2018, the non-therapeutic docking of dogs tails will be prohibited in New Zealand.
An independent report was carried out to determine whether docking caused significant pain and distress, serious or lasting harm, and if there is a therapeutic purpose to this procedure. This document may be found at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/law-and-policy/legal-overviews/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-regulations/ .
It was once assumed that neonatal puppies did not generate a response to pain as older animals would. Further research has proven that they do develop a signal in response to a painful stimulus. Whether or not they experience this as pain, this signal is harmful as it will increase the animal’s sensitivity to pain and anxiety, increasing the distress experienced throughout the animal’s life.
Other arguments against tail docking include complications such as scarring, dehiscence, fistula recurrence and anal sphincter or rectal trauma. Chronic complications from nerve damage causing self-mutilation or incontinence may also be observed. The tail also has a purpose in balance and communication.
Several arguments in favour of tail docking have been negated, with studies showing that tail injury is not a serious risk to the average dog or dogs employed as companion animals, and when tail injury does occur it is often readily treatable, therefore not warranting preventative docking.
In conclusion it was found that tail docking is a significant surgical procedure with the potential to cause considerable pain and distress to the animal and that it is not justified by any animal welfare benefit to the dog. As a clinic we are in full support of this change!
Several other changes in legislation will be released as they are developed, including new criteria regarding ear cropping, debarking, declawing and branding as well as many proposals in other species. These can be be found by clicking the above link for the MPI website.