Cosmetic Procedures for Pets Soon a Thing of the Past?Published August 4, 2009
I was very pleased to run across an article online which gives me hope that some of the unnecessary cosmetic surgical procedures performed on pets in the USA are being viewed in a more humane light by some veterinary practitioners. Last week, according to "USA Today", Banfield, The Pet Hospital, one of the most frequently used network of animal hospitals in the USA, headquartered in Portland Oregon, announced that that tail docking, devocalization and ear cropping in dogs will no longer be offered as services provided by their clinics. Ear cropping photo courtesy of: www.care2.com Tail docking and ear cropping is a popular procedure which is generally preformed for cosmetic reasons to comply with breed standards, in the United States. Debarking or devocalization, while a fairly uncommon procedure used to keep dogs from barking, remains a controversial surgery which involves the full or partial removal of a dog's, (or even in some cases a cat's) vocal chords. The American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution last year which strongly opposes these procedures and urges its elimination from these breed standards. I applaud the AVMA for taking this stand, as medical justification for the procedure is rarely necessary for the health of these dogs for which the surgery is routinely performed. In a statement made by Karen Faunt, vice president for medical control quality advancement at Banfield, "After thoughtful consideration and reviewing medical research, we have determined it is in the best interest of the pets we treat, as well as the overall practice, to discontinue performing these unnecessary cosmetic procedures. It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether." However she added that the procedure will continue to be performed on pets in cases where it is medically necessary. New York, Vermont, and Illinois are some of the states at the forefront to outlaw these practices. In Europe these practices have fallen out of fashion. However the American Kennel Club has been vehemently fighting any attempts to have these laws put on the books. They claim that "as prescribed in certain breed standards, (they) are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health and preventing injuries, and that any interference that these procedures are cosmetic and unnecessary is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs." Many American breeders would happily stop the practice, but they are concerned that their dogs won't win in the show-ring so routinely continue the surgeries when puppies are new born. Docking and cropping are most frequently performed on hunting dogs such as boxers, Schnauzers, Great Danes, terriers, some Spaniels and Doberman Pinchers. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association congratulated Banfield, The Pet Hospital, for their corporate decision to stop these procedures at their 745 hospitals around the United States, Dr. Barbara Hodges, the HSVMA Veterinary Consultant said, "This decision represents a significant step for the veterinary community in placing the health and welfare of our canine patients above aesthetic preferences or human convenience." However, she added, "We look forward to Banfield taking similar action on behalf of felines by discontinuing cat declawing at its clinics." Perhaps Banfield, The Pet Hospital is considering cessation of declawing cats, as they at least are no longer openly advertising this service as part of their Optimum Wellness program, which at one time was suggested as part of prudent pet care. It seems to this author, at least, that if this were true, that the breeds that are commonly "cropped" and "docked" would be born with "cropped ears" and "docked tails" as survival based mutations to preserve their robust health and safety, and cats would be born without claws. I bet my bottom dollar that the dogs and cats would agree with me. Please share how you feel about these cosmetic procedures routinely performed by pet owners by leaving a comment.