Kent man in court for docking puppy’s tail with rubber band

A Kent man has been handed a community order after illegally docking the tail of a cocker spaniel puppy.

Liam Jones of Shrubcoste, Tenterdon, appeared at Maidstone Magstrates’ Court on Tuesday (29 January) where he pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a puppy by attempting to dock his tail.

RSPCA Inspector Dave Grant, who investigated, said: “Mr Jones was used to docking lambs’ tails and didn’t see any different in applying the same method to his 15-week old cocker spaniel Max.

“He claimed his previous dog had suffered a de-gloving tail injury, which is when the skin is torn away, and he wanted to prevent Max going through the same. When we removed Max from the home, he had an orange elastic band wrapped tightly around his tail. It was 1.5 ins from the base and his tail and the remainder of the tail was withered almost to the point of falling off. I touched his tail and yelped; he was obviously in pain.”

Tail docking is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 unless for medical purposed. Certified working dogs of certain types can be exempted from this ban but only a vet can carry out the procedure and it must be done before the puppy is five days old.

Inspector Grant added: “While Mr jones told us that Max was intended to be a working dog, he was not registered with any groups. He also admitted that he was unaware of the laws around tail docking and had used crimping pliers to apply the rubber band to Max’s tail.

“Tail docking is illegal. It is a painful process, can impact on how dogs communicate and is often wholly unnecessary. We do not believe any animals should be mutilated for cosmetic purposed and that removing part, or all of the tail should only be done for medical reasons.”

Liam Jones was sentenced to a community order of 200 hours of unpaid work and 20-day rehabilitation activity requirements to include the RSPCA’ pilot intervention programme for offenders; this scheme is aimed at stopping re-offending.

He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for two years and ordered to pay £300 in costs and an £85 victim surcharge. Max was signed over to the RSPCA to be rehomed.