ANNE Snelgrove's campaign for a blanket-ban on the docking of dogs' tails has failed.

MPs narrowly rejected an attempt to impose a total ban on removing dogs' tails in England and Wales by 11 votes.

Instead, a compromise was agreed which will still allow the tail docking of working dogs, including those in the police service. About 78,000 puppies have their tails docked, or removed, in the UK each year many for cosmetic reasons.

Campaigners say the amputation, which is carried out without anaesthetic when puppies are between three and five days old, is cruel and serves no useful purpose.

However, Countryside groups and dog breeders insist docking is needed to prevent injury to working gun dogs.

Swindon South's Anne Snelgrove was one of the most enthusiastic proponents of a total ban during a debate on the Animal Welfare Bill. Speaking in the Commons, she read out a letter from town vet Stephen Smith who claimed: "There is no scientific evidence to show that undocked working dogs damage their tails any more than undocked non-working dogs."

Ministers agreed to a compromise option that was carried by 476 votes to 63 a majority of 413.

It will mean that a dog can have its tail docked if a vet certifies that it is "likely" to be a working animal.