In December 2016, 44 year old Debbie Baggs who owns and operates Fireball Kennels in Hunts Point NS, 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. An expert witness from Atlantic Veterinary College was brought in to testify and concluded that this procedure does cause significant pain and distress to the puppy even at a very young age of only days old.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says in their position statement on this subject, “There is no scientific evidence that cosmetic surgeries provide any welfare or medical benefit to animals. There is evidence to suggest that some cosmetic procedures cause acute and chronic pain, as well as behavioral evidence that cosmetic alteration may be detrimental to canine behavior.”
On February 13, 2018, a judge in Provincial Court found Baggs, not guilty on the charges of causing distress to the puppies. Even though the judge conveyed that there was evidence to show that there was distress to the puppies, Baggs was found not guilty due to the writing in the legislation.
The Nova Scotia Animal Protection Act section 21 states that;
(1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress.
Section 21 Subsection (4) states that Subsections (1) 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.
Charges on Baggs were dismissed.
Chief Provincial Inspector, Jo-Anne Landsburg, commented, “This is very disappointing on many levels. For one, the accused got off on a loophole in the system. Secondly, this sets a tone that others in Nova Scotia will feel that is ok to perform this barbaric practice in their back yard. 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.
In addition, I think if we can educate the public on how this procedure is accomplished, and how painful it is to the newborns, people would choose not to purchase puppies with docked tails.”
The NS SPCA operates on a policy of zero tolerance for animal cruelty and sets the standard of animal care for the province of Nova Scotia. The NS SPCA urges you to report acts of animal cruelty by contacting our confidential toll free hotline at: 1-888-703-7722
Source: Media Release