Headline:  Veterinarians should vote to outlaw inhumane cosmetic
surgery on dogs

Author:  Holly Cheever

Cosmetic surgeries on dogs - cropping ears and docking tails - may
soon be history in the United States

This month, the House of Delegates of the American Veterinary Medical
association, the largest such group in the world, will vote on whether
to adopt postion statements opposing these surgeries.  The AVMA is
responding to the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights,
which submitted hundreds of petitions signed by veterinarians
nationwide asking it to oppose these practices to help guide the
conduct of verinarians on this ethical issue.

Many veterinarians already refuse to crop ears and dock tails, and
some are actively campaigning to stop these unnecessary and
disfiguring surgeries.  These progressive veterinarians are following
the leard of British kennel clubs, which outlawed ear cropping a
century ago.  Cosmetic tail docks were stopped in 1993 in Great
Britain, thanks to British veterinarians, and many other European
countires have enacted similar bans.

Many veterinarians and most humane groups want these practices
stopped for one simple reason:  Canine ear crops and tail docks hurt.
 Painful post-surgical healing follows ear cropping, and the process
of taping and retaping the pup's ears to a frame to force them to
stand erect can be agonizing to the recovering animal.  Anesthesia to
prevent pain is rarely used for docking the tails of puppies only a
few days old.

The timing of ear crops is also controversial.  The preferred age, 8
to 12 weeks, coincides with a period of development in which trauma
can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup.

Some veterinarians also object to the arbitrary removal of body parts
used for communication, balance and the expression of a host of canine
behavioral traits.  Dogs "talk" to their human companions and each
other with their ears and tails.  Why perform medically unnecessary
procedures that merely perpetuate the image of dogs as "fashion

Not everyone is happy with the growing segment of the veterinary
profession that wants to stop these outdated practices.  Some
purebred dog breeders believe that "their" breed will be ruined if it
does not maintain the image handed down by parent breed clubs decades

They also argue that cropping or docking provide health benefits,
namely saving a dog from having its tail damged and preventing ear
infections.  These arguments hold little water.  If they did,
veterinarians would crop the ears of cocker spaniels and poodles, and
no dogs would have tails.

Debate over the issue churns within the AVMA's committees.  The
association currently has no position statement on canine tail
docking.  Its position on ear cropping is vague and doesn not address
the veterinarians's conduct.  Sadly, many veterinarians see nothing
wrong with mutilating an animal that does not need surgery, as long
as there is a guardian demanding it and willing to pay for it.

The American Kennel Club, whch could take a strong leadership role in
eliminating these painful procedures, has washed its hand of the whole

It is time for the AVMA to take a stand against ear cropping and tail
docking, regardless of fashion standards.  The United States must join
other progressive countries in eliminating these anachronistic and
inhumane procedures.  Surely, dogs deserve to be valued for their
wonderful inherent characteristics.

Veterinarian Holly Cheever is a board member of the Association of
Veterinarians for Animal Rights, in Vacaville, Calif., and
spokeswoman for the campaign to end ear cropping and tail docking in
the United States.  She wrote this for People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals.