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Report Calls for Review of Painful Animal Mutilations

NEWS RELEASE Wednesday 6 December 2006 – For Immediate Use

PAINFUL REALITY NEW REPORT CALLS FOR REVIEW OF PAINFUL ANIMAL MUTILATIONS

Advocates for Animals has today released a scientific report, Painful Reality1, revealing the wide range of painful mutilations2 that are currently performed on animals in Scotland and calling for each one to be reviewed. Painful mutilations are routinely performed on millions of animals in Scotland each year, often without any anaesthetic. Painful Reality, produced in response to the Scottish Executive’s current consultation on the future of mutilations5, assesses the suffering caused by each procedure and calls for the Executive to review whether they should be allowed to continue.

Painful Reality reveals that mutilation procedures are carried out on millions of farmed animals, working animals, animals used in sport and entertainment and companion (pet) animals, including dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish and reptiles. They include castration, tail-docking, dis-budding, de-horning, branding, tattooing, ear-notching, ear-tagging, de-beaking, de-snooding, toe-cutting, dubbing, de-spurring, de-clawing, nose-ringing, removal of teats, teeth-clipping and teeth-grinding. Some of these procedures, such as the castration of piglets, calves and lambs, are carried out on animals under a week old without any pain relief, while others, such as the nose-ringing of breeding sows or the de-beaking of laying hens can be sufficiently painful and disabling to prevent the animals from engaging in their full repertoire of natural behaviour for the rest of their lives.

The report considers the significant body of evidence that many mutilations are painful to animals, whether this pain can and should be mitigated by the use of anaesthesia and analgesia, or whether the procedure ought to be banned.

Mutilations are often proposed as acceptable solutions to perceived or real problems in managing animals and are claimed to be in the animals’ best interests (for example by preventing injury from fighting). However, Advocates would like to see such problems addressed, wherever possible, by changing management practices and/or the application of new technology.

A Scottish opinion poll3 commissioned by Advocates found that nine out of ten people in Scotland believe all or some mutilations of animals should be banned and less than one in ten people thought that all mutilations should be allowed to continue as at present. In addition, the survey found that the majority of people were unaware of the scale of mutilations and would prefer to buy meat from un-mutilated animals.

Advocates has also asked the Executive to hold firm on its plan to ban all tail-docking of dogs. A previous Scottish opinion poll4 commissioned by Advocates showed that over two thirds (68%) of people living in Scotland believed that all tail-docking of dogs should be banned and nearly 9 out of 10 people (88%) believed some sort of ban on tail-docking should be introduced.

Advocates’ Political Director, Libby Anderson, said: "We welcome the Scottish Executive’s approach to the tail-docking of dogs, which recognises that animals should not routinely have body parts removed without there being over-riding welfare reasons to do so. We believe that this approach should be extended to all mutilations of animals. It is astonishing that it is currently perfectly legal to cause such pain to animals in this manner. Rather than automatically legislating to permit a wide range of mutilations, the Scottish Executive ought to review the current use of each of these procedures, the welfare cost of the procedure, whether it is necessary for it to continue, and on what grounds, and what alternatives are available."

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

For interviews, further information or photographs, please contact Advocates’ Political Director, Libby Anderson, on 0131 225 6039 (07967 839137).

1 Painful Reality - Why painful mutilations of animals must be reviewed can be found at: www.advocatesforanimals.org/pdf/painfulreality.pdf

2 The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons defines ‘mutilations’ as "all procedures, carried out with or without instruments, which involve interference with sensitive tissues or the bone structure of an animal, and are carried out for non-therapeutic reasons."

3 TNS System Three was commissioned by Advocates for Animals to interview 1036 respondents across 43 sampling points over the period 28th September – 7th October 2006. To ensure that the sample was representative of the adult population in terms of age, sex and class, it was weighted to match population estimates from the National Readership Survey of January – December 2004.

If you buy lamb, pork, beef or eggs it is likely that the animals from which they are derived will have been subjected to a variety of mutilations in their first days of life. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons defines ‘mutilations’ as "all procedures, carried out with or without instruments, which involve interference with sensitive tissues or the bone structure of an animal, and are carried out for non-therapeutic reasons." These happen in Scotland as well as many other countries. For example, the majority of lambs and piglets have their tails docked and male lambs are castrated, generally without anaesthetic. Egg-laying hens usually have the ends of their beaks cut off. Farmers claim these practices are carried out for animal welfare reasons as they make the animals behaviour easier to manage, although animal welfare organisations claim that improving farming systems can remove the need for mutilations. It is currently legal to carry out these and many other mutilations on farmed animals without providing any pain relief.

Before today, were you aware that millions of young farmed animals are subjected to these mutilations in Scotland each year without giving them any pain relief?

Yes 37% (380)

No 63% (655)

Don’t know 0% (1)

Would you prefer to purchase meat and other products derived from animals that have not been subjected to mutilations, or does it make no difference to what you buy?

Prefer to buy from unmutilated 62% (645)

Makes no difference 33% (347)

Don’t buy anyway 3% (31)

Don’t know 1% (13)

The Scottish Executive is reviewing the law regarding mutilation of animals. Which of these options would you support as the outcome for this review?

Allow all mutilations to continue as at present 9% (88)

Examine each mutilation separately to assess whether they have an overall animal welfare benefit and ban those that do not 45% (485)

Ban all mutilations 44% (463)

Don’t know 3% (30)

4 TNS System Three was commissioned by Advocates for Animals to interview a sample of 1,011 adults aged 16+ in Scotland between 30 March and 4 April 2006. Interviews were conducted in person at 43 sampling points across the country. To ensure that the sample was representative of the adult population in terms of age, sex and class, it was weighted to match population estimates from the National Readership Survey of January – December 2004.

The Scottish Executive has said it intends to ban tail-docking of all dogs. Tail-docking is the removal of all or part of a puppy or dog's tail, without anaesthetic and mostly for reasons of the appearance of the breed of dog. Some owners claim that it is necessary to dock the tails of working dogs to prevent possible future tail injuries, but the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association support a complete ban on tail-docking of all dogs, including working dogs.

Do you think that the Scottish Executive should ban tail-docking of all dogs, allow the docking of working dogs' tails only, or continue to allow docking of tails for all dogs?

Ban for all dogs: 68% (685)

Allow for working dogs only: 20% (206)

Allow for all dogs: 8% (79)

Don’t know: 4% (41)

5 The Executive consultation concerns the Prohibited Procedures (Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations to be made under the new Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act, which came into force on 6 October. The consultation document can be found at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/10/12104

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