GAMEKEEPERS will today hand in to the Scottish Parliament a petition signed by 4000 people who want the ban on the tail docking of working dogs lifted.

The gamekeepers' leader has described the "terrible pain" endured by some dogs as a national disgrace.

In 2007, the docking of dogs' tails was made illegal in Scotland. The Scottish Gamekeepers' Association previously marched against the bill because working dogs such as spaniels and retrievers suffer frequent tail damage while working in whin and bramble. Prior to the ban, working pups' tails could be shortened by a vet at two to three days old.

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The SGA say all other UK countries drafted exemptions in legislation for working dogs - except Scotland.

The gamekeepers also say that at a meeting in Perth seven years ago, First Minister Alex Salmond promised that an SNP-led government would reverse the ban, if research backed the move.

"Seven years later, and 14 months after the SGA was told that research by Glasgow University would be available 'in weeks', the research remains unpublished," said a spokesman.

"The SGA understands research will show that 56% of working spaniels surveyed in one season - since the ban - suffered at least one tail injury. Tail injury often leads to amputation - a procedure which is more distressing for an adult dog than the docking of a pup's tail."

The petition asks the SNP administration to fulfil the promise made by the First Minister to reverse the ban.

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said its online survey showed there were 4158 in favour of docking versus 175 against. He said: "Since the ban on hunting with dogs, never have I come across such deep anger in the countryside."