News / Halifax

Nova Scotia woman found not guilty for docking puppy tails due to 'loophole:' SPCA

The 44-year-old was charged after placing rubber bands on puppy tails until they lost circulation and fell off

Laika (L), an 1.5 year old Mutt and Marzipan, an 1 year old Doberman Bulldog, Toronto, Monday, June 12, 2017.

Eduardo Lima / Toronto Staff

Laika (L), an 1.5 year old Mutt and Marzipan, an 1 year old Doberman Bulldog, Toronto, Monday, June 12, 2017.

The Nova Scotia SPCA is expressing disappointment that a Nova Scotia woman has been found not guilty for docking the tails of puppies due to a legal loophole.

In a media release issued Wednesday, the provincial SPCA said in December of 2016, they charged Debbie Baggs, 44, for causing distress to puppies after placing rubber bands on their tails until they lost circulation and eventually fell off.

Baggs owns and operates Fireball Kennels in Hunts Point.

An expert witness from the Atlantic Veterinary College was brought in to testify and concluded that the procedure does cause significant pain and distress to the puppy even when they’re only days old.

On Tuesday, a provincial court judge found Baggs not guilty on the charges of causing distress to the puppies.

Even though the judge noted there was evidence suggesting the puppies experienced distress, Baggs was found not guilty due to 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 Subsection (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 against Baggs were dismissed.

Chief provincial inspector Jo-Anne Landsburg, described the decision as “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 it is ok to perform this barbaric practice in their back yard,” she said in the media release.

“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."

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