Dogs' tails were the unlikely subject of a legal 'first' in Haverfordwest magistrates court this week as Pembrokeshire County Council brought a test case to clarify the law banning the docking of puppy tails in the UK.

Caroline Terry of Badger's Break, Foxhall, Llangwm, had taken her three rottweiler pups to the Irish Republic to have their tails docked by a vet.

The puppies were then advertised for sale on the internet for £500 each, they were described as being "legally docked'".

Terry was charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and appeared in court on Wednesday.

UK law closely regulates the docking of dogs' tails. Only a few working breeds are allowed to be docked and it is an offence for a vet to remove the whole or part of a dog's tail of other breeds unless it is for medical reasons.

Wednesday's case was considered as a point of law. County council prosecutor, Jeff Harries, contended that "causing" the act of docking was initiated in the UK and was therefore an offence within the jurisdiction of the court.

Wyn Rees, defending Terry, maintained that because the deed was done in the Republic of Ireland, it was outside UK law.

However, magistrates decided that taking the pups abroad with the intention of having the tails removed was an illegal act.

As a result, Terry was found guilty and fined a total of £600. Costs of £400 were also awarded against her.

Nigel Watts, the county council's trading standards and animal welfare manager, said afterwards: "The recent Animal Welfare Act prohibits the docking of dogs' tails in the UK except for certain breeds used for work, and only then by a veterinary surgeon.

"The court's decision indicates that it is not an option to take any other breed of dog abroad for tail-docking just for cosmetic purposes. Any dog-breeder or owner should contact their local authority to clarify their legal position."