Tail docking is the amputation of a part or all of an animal’s tail . In puppies, it is usually performed between day three to five of life or at 3 months under general anaesthesia by surgical amputation with a scalpel . Some breeders, however, perform tail docking without anaesthesia by the application of tight rubber rings around the tail which serves to occlude vessels caudal to the rubber ring, resulting in ischemic necrosis and sloughing of the tail [1, 3]. Tail docking in animals, especially dogs, remains a controversial subject among veterinarians, animal breeders, pet owners and animal welfare groups in many countries of Europe and the United States of America (USA) [1, 4, 5]. The procedure has been banned in the United Kingdom with exceptional provision made for therapeutic and prophylactic tail docking in certified working dogs . Cosmetic tail docking is gradually becoming an issue in Africa with South Africa leading in the ban against the procedure  while other African countries are yet to have a legislative position on the procedure.
Tail docking in many dog breeds is an established custom believed to have been introduced some 2000 years ago . In recent times, dogs’ tails are supposedly docked to conform to breed standards, prevent tail injuries, and to potentially reduce the accumulation of fecal materials around the tail area of dogs with excessive coat [1, 8]. Docking dogs to prevent tail injuries has, however, been controverted by many recent studies [9, 10]. In a study conducted in Great Britain, to assess the risk of tail injury and associated risk factors, as well as, to allow objective assessment of the frequency of tail injury and risk factors associated with them ; the overall risk of tail injuries was low. The weighted risk was 0.23 % per year, with working-dogs being 0.29 % and non-working dogs 0.19 % . The study concluded that, although docking appears to be protective against injury, over 500 dogs would need to be docked in order to prevent one tail injury . In another recent study to assess the nature of canine tail injury in New Zealand , it was concluded that tail injuries are rarely observed in Veterinary clinics, and docking a risk factor in traditionally docked breeds . Tail docking is associated with severe acute pain which often causes behavioural distress in puppies  especially when performed without anaesthesia or analgesia, especially as with rubber ring. Chronic pain arising from tail stump infections and neuromas have also been reported [12–14], and elucidated with pain studies in other species . Chronic health challenges such as faecal incontinence, atrophy of pelvic muscles , frequent tail damage [9, 16, 17], impaired locomotory and communication defects have also been reported and confirmed through previous studies [4, 5]. These complications, and lack of dog’s benefit from the procedure have raised strong oppositions from Veterinary associations and animal welfare groups [3, 18, 19] resulting in the ban of non-therapeutic animal docking in many European countries, Australia and South Africa [3, 7, 20–23].
The current influx of traditionally docked breeds into major countries of Africa including Nigeria has heightened the non-therapeutic dog tail docking practice , with non-compliance to docking time for puppies , abuse of the rubber band docking method, indiscriminate docking of dog breeds and non-cognisance of the required number of residual coccygeal vertebrae in line with breed standards (Authors’ unpublished observations). These have resulted in an upsurge of post-docking complications and animal suffering. This paper, which is the first of its kind from Nigeria, reports one of such tail docking abuses, and the ensuing complications as evidence of cruelty to companion animal species, and a call for a strong legislation towards the ban of cosmetic tail docking in all African Countries .