Veterinary Ireland: End Tail Docking. Global Outlook.

by Mary Haight on April 5, 2009

The Cliffs in the last of the light in Februar...
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In Galway Ireland the other morning over tea, I was reading the Irish Times and came across an article by Sean MacConnell reporting on the influx of British owners with their dogs seeking the amputation procedure of docking, outlawed there since 2007.  While I was still very busy with the conference, I did want to pursue this issue from a global view.

MacConnell’s article went on to state that  the Chairman of the Veterinary Ireland’s Companion Animal Society, Alan Rossiter,  heartily supports  specific legislation to ban docking puppies, followed by a ban on showing docked dogs after legislation has passed.  Ireland is behind the curve with the EU and Britain in banning the practice as a cosmetic or preventive measure.  

Taking a look Stateside, The American Veterinary Medical Association has been attempting to get the AKC to alter breed “standards” since the mid-1970s.  They have tried to get them to listen to the medical facts of this procedure as well as ear cropping, every decade thereafter to no avail.  Their most recent statement “The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.”  They condemn these practices as cruelty not medically beneficial to the patient and tell veterinarians to advise their clients against such procedures. The American Animal Hospital Association is against these procedures, as is the Canadian VMA.

The Australian Veterinary Association have a similar position, stating that biochemical markers show that puppies feel no less pain than adult dogs and short and long-term effects from surgery are evident.  The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has had a negative position on these surgeries since 2001.

The national kennel clubs of 84 nations are members of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). which also bans these practices.  The AKC is not a member.

There are no peer-reviewed studies or research showing these practices to be of any health benefit to dogs.  In fact, Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist, has an article “The Painful Costs of  Breed Standards” that discusses the origin of these practices from the 18th century Puritans in the US and their early cousins overseas as based in the belief that dogs tails were possessed by demons.  Still others thought that rabies were prevented through this practice, and, as often claimed even today against all medical research, that such amputation is required to help prevent injury to working dogs tails.

Currently Illinois and Pennsylvania have bills pending on this topic.  Illinois passed the House bill which awaits Senate approval.  Illinois  simply bans the practice, in line with most of the nations of the world.  AKC is attempting to derail its passage.  So far they have done a great job–Senate Bill 139 has been stripped of all substantive language and is now just an empty place-holder.

Our little trip around the world from a great place in Ireland shows that while animal welfare organizations attempt to stop the cruelty and pain inflicted on animals, in this case dogs, there are other agencies equally bent on keeping their practices the same as some kind of homage to history, however cruel their practice. 

It tells me that these serious arguments must be addressed and opposed over and over again until legislation is in place.  However long that takes, what is necessary is that everyone interested in animal welfare must  keep working at it for the benefit of the animals.  And getting as organized as groups like the AKC is what is required for success.

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  1. […] an April article here on worldwide docking and cropping practices , I noted the AVMA has been trying to get the AKC to alter their breed standards since the mid […]

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