Great news for dogs: Banfield, the nation's largest network of animal hospitals, with more than 730 hospitals and 2,000 veterinarians nationwide, has just announced that it will no longer dock dogs' tails, crop their ears, or remove their vocal cords--a cruel procedure known as devocalization, or de-barking! (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-30-dog-tails_N.htm)
As mentioned in the USA Today article, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has fought laws seeking to ban tail docking and ear cropping because it feels that purebred dogs should conform to certain breed standards. But performing medically unnecessary procedures on dogs only perpetuates the notion that they are fashion accessories. Unfortunaely, many breeders insist that “their” breed will be “ruined” if it does not maintain the image handed down by breed clubs decades ago. AKC doggie beauty pageants are filled with dogs who have been mutilated for no good reason.
Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just eight 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.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has pointed out 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.” Because the procedures are so cruel and dangerous, they have been banned in many European countries.
Many veterinarians also condemn de-barking because it is superfluous, causes dogs a great deal of post-operative pain, and strips them of their natural means to communicate. Yet some people resort to this cruel, invasive procedure as a "solution" to problem barking—even though there are humane and effective alternatives, including simple positive training methods. (Of course, some experimenters also de-bark dogs used in laboratory tests, so that they won't be "disturbed" by the dogs' desperate cries for help and attention.)
Thankfully, some people who were thinking about subjecting their animals to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures will likely think twice now that Banfield has come out against them—setting an example for other animal hospitals to follow. As Dr. Karen Faunt, Banfield's vice president for medical quality advancement, says, "It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether."
With any luck, declawing (http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/how-to-be-your-cats-best-friend/) will be the next cruel and unnecessary procedure to be banned. To learn more about cosmetic surgeries on dogs and cats—and find out what you can do to help lessen animal suffering—see www.HelpingAnimals.com.