Humans can opt against 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 re-taping 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 any anesthetics to numb the pain of having their tails cut off. 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.
It is ridiculous to perform medically unnecessary procedures that simply perpetuate the image that dogs are fashion accessories. 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 in Great Britain 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 (AVMA) 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.”
In response to the tail-docking (amputation) requirements for certain breeds in the Westminster Kennel Club’s (WKC) internationally promoted annual dog show, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a complaint with New York officials against the club, alleging criminal violations of the state’s anti-cruelty law, which prohibits unjustified mutilations of animals.
Are Your Neighbors Barking Mad?
Don’t wait for a visit from animal control, a court summons, or—worst of all—for frustrated neighbors to strike before you solve your dog’s barking problem. PETA’s caseworkers are flooded with calls from people who have been ordered to subject their dog to a cruel surgery of convenience, called “debarking,” as a means to try to remedy their excessive barking. But barking is a dog’s means of communicating many feelings—fear, frustration, pain, boredom, or even happiness. This cruel procedure strips dogs of their natural ability to vocalize and communicate. Depriving them of their primary means of expression is unjustifiably cruel.
Debarking, or devocalization, is an invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a large amount of laryngeal tissue. It involves a great deal of pain post-operatively. Because this procedure is superfluous and inherently cruel, many veterinarians condemn and refuse to perform it.
You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!
If your dog has a barking problem, don’t accept debarking as a solution. Instead, deal with the problem for what it is: a symptom of boredom and loneliness! There are lots of simple and effective solutions:
- Most importantly, if your dog spends all day outdoors alone in a yard, bring him or her inside to become part of the family, where companion animals belong!
- Call your local humane society for a referral to a humane trainer, animal behaviorist or helpful veterinarian, and never attempt to use shock or citronella collars as a solution. Click here [link: http://living.peta.org/dog-training] for more information on humane training methods.
- Ask your vet or local humane society to refer you to a dog walker, doggie daycare center, or dog park, where dogs can talk all they want.
- If you have been ordered by the court to either debark or euthanize your dog or move, you probably need to hire a lawyer.
- Raise awareness about cruel debarking by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.