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A Waitakere mechanic has been banned from owning dogs for a decade after partially severing the tails of 10 rottweiler puppies.
Mohammed Fiaz Khan, 33, was convicted in the Waitakere District Court last week of wilful ill-treatment of animals.
In May last year, he attempted to remove the tails of the pedigree puppies by tightly tying fishing line at their base - a practice typically known as tail-banding or tail-docking.
The fishing line partially severed the tails resulting in a serious infection and causing the pups significant pain. All 10 dogs had to be put down by the SPCA.
They were 3 weeks old.
Khan was sentenced to five months community detention, 18 months intensive supervision and he cannot own dogs for 10 years.
Tail-docking is illegal in 33 countries including the United Kingdom and Australia and many groups are wondering why New Zealand is yet to follow suit.
SPCA Auckland executive director Bob Kerridge calls tail-docking "mutilation".
"At best it's unnecessary and purely cosmetic - at worst it's painful and dangerous.
"People are currently docking dogs at home with little or no knowledge about what they're doing. Very often they botch the job, inflicting pain, suffering, and long-term discomfort on the dogs. In some cases the resulting wounds become infected and lead to death, as in this case and plenty of others."
The New Zealand Veterinary Association agrees with the SPCA and Companion Animal Society vice-president Callum Irvine says the practice is outside the veterinary code of conduct.
"It's a glaring omission in our animal welfare. New Zealand has fallen behind," Irvine says.
He says the only condition where a vet could tail-dock would be for medical reasons such as a dog having a persistent tail injury or a broken tail.
The current Animal Welfare (Dogs) Code of Welfare states that tails may be shortened or removed by using a tail band only in puppies that are less than 4 days old.
This practice is supported with a quality assurance scheme run by the New Zealand Kennel Club that states only accredited banders can complete the procedure.
Its president Owen Dance says the club has made changes to its regulations relating to shows and competitions.
About 66 dog breeds taking part in shows that traditionally need their tails docked will no longer be penalised if owners don't go ahead with the procedure.
"In short, while we don't support tail docking per se we recognise the option is legitimate - provided the procedure is undertaken in strict accordance with the current regulatory requirements."
The New Zealand Council of Docked Breeds chairman Martyn Slade says tail-banding is not performed for cosmetic purposes and it's not a surgical procedure, but is historically accepted for working dogs.
"Fit for purpose means that the dog has been bred historically to do a particular job be it an Old English Sheepdog in the paddocks or one of the many gundogs who require their tails to be docked to be able to do their job in the fields."
The docked breeds council advocates tail-banding on puppies no older than 72 hours old.
"This time frame has been scientifically proven that dogs do not feel any pain in their sacrum vertebrae for the first 10 days after being born, this allows the band to be placed onto the tail without causing any pain, distress or discomfort."
Changes could be afoot with a Ministry of Primary Industries spokeswoman saying the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which looks at regulations around surgical and painful procedures, is currently being considered by the Primary Production Select Committee.
"If the Government decides that further regulation of dog tail docking is required, it will consult publicly on proposals as part of developing the surgical and painful procedures regulations after the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is passed."
- Western Leader
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