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Ear Cropping and Tail Docking Create Ethical Dilemmas for Vets

I do not know how to crop ears or dock tails. Both procedures are relatively straightforward for a qualified veterinarian. I could easily master them....

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Oct 10th 2008


I do not know how to crop ears or dock tails. Both procedures are relatively straightforward for a qualified veterinarian. I could easily master them. But I have chosen not to.

I am not willing to perform surgical procedures that are not medically necessary. Most of the vets I know hold similar attitudes. Doberman Pinschers can lead perfectly healthy lives with long tails and floppy ears.

Ear cropping and tail docking are painful. The procedures may lead to infections, disfigurement and other complications. My decision not to perform these surgeries was straightforward.

Unfortunately, this attitude is coming into conflict with breed standards and the expectations of some pet owners.

As fewer veterinarians are willing to crop ears and dock tails, more breeders and owners are turning to unqualified individuals to perform the procedures. Many experts worry that this trend will lead to increased complication rates and inadequate pain control for animals subjected to cosmetic surgeries.

Some members of the veterinary community feel that vets should embrace the procedures. When a qualified veterinarian crops ears or docks a tail, he or she is able to use sterile technique and implement an appropriate pain management protocol.

However, a growing number of vets (including me) advocate a different solution. Change the breed standards. Eliminate cosmetic surgeries in animals. I predict that we will prevail.

Photo credit: jsmjr (Flickr)
Photo licensing information: CC.

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