Coleraine woman first prosecuted for animal tail docking

Dog with docked tail
Dog with docked tail
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The first-ever prosecution has taken place in Northern Ireland for animal tail docking.

Coleraine woman Edith Burton, 36, was on Friday ordered to do 160 hours of community service and pay £216 in costs following her conviction at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court.

She was also was disqualified from the owning, keeping, or participating in the keeping of certain dog breeds, including Jack Russell terrier types, and springer or boxer types.

The prosecution was launched by the soon-to-be defunct Coleraine Borough Council,

She had pleaded guilty on March 6 to causing unnecessary suffering to boxer puppies in her care in August 2013, as well as to docking the tails of a previous litter of boxer-type puppies in June 2013.

Sentencing had been put off until Friday while the court awaited a pre-sentence report.

District Judge McNally said that, if she had pleaded not guilty and then been found guilty by the court, she would have been handed a jail sentence of at least two months.

Burton was prosecuted under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011, following a probe by animal welfare officers.

The British Veterinary Association states that it believes puppies suffer “unnecessary pain as a result of docking, and are deprived of a vital form of canine expression” when they lose their tails.

In a statement following the sentencing, the council said: “Coleraine Borough Council is pleased to have brought Northern Ireland’s first successful prosecution for tail docking under the new animal welfare legislation.

“This is an outdated and now illegal practice which causes unnecessary suffering upon the animal, in this case boxer-type pups only a few days old.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates that councils will take action through the courts and we trust that it sends out the clear message that any form of animal cruelty will not be tolerated.”

It added that anyone with concerns about tail docking should contact their local authority’s welfare service.