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A Canadian dog breeder has been found ‘not guilty’ of a practice called ‘tail docking’ in a case an animal welfare charity described as ‘very disappointing’.

Debbie Baggs, 44, from Nova Scotia, was charged was charged by the NS SPCA for causing distress to puppies after she placed rubber bands on their tails until they lost circulation and eventually fell off.

‘Generally accepted practice’

‘Tail docking’ is no longer practiced by veterinarians in the province. 

The ‘procedure’ –
usually only performed for cosmetic reasons – was banned in 2010 by the Nova
Scotia Veterinary Medical Association.

But despite the
consensus among veterinarians, the judge argued that tail docking could be
categorized as a ‘generally accepted practice in animal management’.

‘Loophole’

Consequently,
under the terms of the existing legislation, the charges against the defendant
were dropped.

While
Section 21 of the province’s Animal Protection Act explicitly states that ‘no
person shall cause an animal to be in distress’, one subsection states that
this ‘does not apply if the procedure is carried on in the accordance with
reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management, husbandry or
slaughter or an activity exempted by the regulations’.

SPCA ‘concerned’

Since Baggs was acquitted, the Nova
Scotia SPCA has called the province’s Animal Protection Act into question.

Jo-Anne Lansburg, Chief Provincial Inspector of the organization, expressed concerns that more pet owners will attempt ‘tail docking’ at home, and is lobbying for change in the legislation.

She said: “I’m confident that the minister of agriculture will see this for the loophole it is and make the appropriate changes in the legislation to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious...