Docking a dog's tail is illegal.
Docking a dog's tail is illegal.

A Coleraine woman has been prosecuted for causing unneccessary suffering and docking the tails of Boxer-type pups, in the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Edith Burton, formerly of Loughanhill Park, pleaded guilty to the offences at North Antrim Magistrates’ Court in Coleraine, last Friday.

She admitted causing 
unnecessary suffering to boxer puppies in her care in August 2013 and to docking the tails of a previous litter of boxer-type puppies in June of that year.

The removal of a dog’s tail, or part of a dog’s tail, is known as tail-docking and was banned in Northern Ireland from January 2013.

Tail docking can be 
performed by a veterinary surgeon for certain working dogs or when the procedure is needed for medical purposes. The dog must be no older 
than five days when docked and will also need to be microchipped before it is eight weeks old.

The charges were brought against Ms Burton by Coleraine Borough Council under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011. The charges related to findings following an investigation by Animal Welfare Officers.

The case was adjourned until March 20 so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

A Coleraine Borough Council spokesperson said: “Coleraine Borough Council is committed to safeguarding the welfare of domestic pets and horses.

“All complaints are 
investigated thoroughly and the Council has adopted a 
stringent enforcement 
policy to ensure full compliance. Where necessary, 
formal action will be taken and this may include the service of Improvement Notices or, if required, the seizure of animals.

“The Council also has the power to prosecute, as in this case, which is the first prosecution in Northern Ireland for the offence of tail docking under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.

“Anyone who does not take appropriate care of animals should be aware that the Council takes a rigorous approach to this issue.”

The British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) have campaigned successfully against the non-therapeutic docking of puppies’ tails since the 1960s because they consider it is not in the animal’s best interests.