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First Schedule—(Excepted Operations)

Volume 527: debated on Friday 21 May 1954

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1.57 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 3, line 11. to leave out "or," and to insert:

"before it has reached the age of three months or of any."
The object of this Amendment is to reduce to three months the age of castration of male dogs without anaesthetics. During the Committee stage, several hon. Members argued that the castration of male puppies was unnecessary, whilst others suggested that the age of six months was too high. I have made further inquiries about this matter since then and I am satisfied that we cannot go so far as to delete the words "male clog" altogether from this paragraph of the Schedule.

I am assured that there is definitely a demand, and it may well be a growing one, for the supply of castrated male puppies in order that the owner may have a dog which will not wander off for days at a time. This applies particularly in the case of the working sheepdog or cattle-dog which has to be used almost every day and which, if not chained up, may well be found missing for some days when a neighbouring bitch is in season. I am informed, for example, that in one veterinary surgeon's practice alone, about 50 male dogs are brought in for castration every year.

The reason for exempting this operation from the provision of compulsory anaesthesia is the same as for cats and other young animals, namely, that the operation is quickly carried out and the total amount of pain, fear and nausea involved may well be less than where additional restraints have to be applied in order to give anaesthesia. I do appreciate, however, that there may be good reasons for reducing somewhat the age of dogs, in so far as these animals mature more quickly than cats and would undoubtedly be more developed at the age of six months than would cats.

We must remember, of course, that if we go too far in this matter the provisions of the Bill may be ignored and the law be brought into contempt. I feel in all the circumstances that the age of three months is a reasonable compromise so far as the castration of puppies is concerned, and I hope those Members who have taken an active interest in this matter will feel that chat is a satisfactory settlement of the issue.

I am sorry to have occupied the time of the House for so long with this explanation, but strong feelings were expressed in the Committee and I thought I had better explain why I am unable to meet the views of hon. Members on one point.

Amendment agreed to.