Humans can opt out of cosmetic surgery, but dogs aren't so lucky. We choose for them—and we often choose painful, unnecessary procedures such as ear-cropping and tail-docking. To give certain breeds so-called "desirable" traits, unscrupulous veterinarians perform cruel, disfiguring surgeries that cause dogs great suffering.
Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just 8 to 12 weeks old. At this stage in their development, the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup. The process of taping and retaping a pup's ears to force them to stand erect after they have been cropped can be agonizing for the dog.
Puppies are normally just a few days old when their tails are docked. They are generally not even given anesthetics to numb the pain. Compassionate veterinarians object to the arbitrary removal of body parts used for communication, balance, and expression. Dogs "talk" to their human companions and other dogs using their ears and tails.
Performing medically unnecessary procedures that simply perpetuate the image of dogs as fashion accessories is outrageous. This image is promoted by the American Kennel Club at its canine beauty pageants and by breeders who believe that "their" breed will be "ruined" if it does not maintain the image handed down by parent breed clubs decades ago.
These procedures are so cruel that they are banned in many European countries. For example, British kennel clubs outlawed ear-cropping a century ago, and cosmetic tail-docking was stopped the U.K. in 1993.
Sadly, some veterinarians still see nothing wrong with mutilating a dog whose guardian is willing to pay for it. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that "ear-cropping and tail-docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries."
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