Proposed California Law Would Outlaw Tail Docking--But There's a Huge Catch

 |  Aug 22nd 2009  |   2 Contributions


I nearly choked on my bagel when I read the following in the legislative update section of the July-August, 2009 issue of California Veterinarian (the bimonthly publication of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)).

[Senate Bill] 135 -- Animal Abuse: Tail Docking -- CVMA Position: Support

The CVMA is now in support of SB 135, which on July 6 was re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations. The bill was heard in the Assembly Agriculture Commmittee on July 1, 2009. The CVMA was successful in getting prescriptive language removed on June 25. The bill was again amended to allow for emergency tail docking if consistent with the (Veterinary Medical) Practice Act, and does not include a reporting requirement.

What's this? Tail docking might soon become illegal in California? And the CVMA is squarely in support of the matter--no hot-blooded debates, no fights, no splinter groups of vets leaving the organization over such a potentially divisive matter? Is this a dream?

Sort of. The piece continues:

The bill, if passed, will make it a misdemeanor to cut the solid part of the tail of cattle . . . [t]he CVMA is opposed to the routine tail docking of cattle.

Cattle. I guess it can't always be about dogs.

Tail docking in cattle is designed to serve hygienic purposes. Shorter tails, in theory, are less likely to swish urine and feces through the air or onto the faces of milkers. Animal welfare concerns have lead to prohibitions on bovine tail docking in several European countries and a few Australian states. California looks set to become the next place where the practice is banned.

The proposed law is fine by me. But while we're outlawing tail docking in cows, wouldn't some legislator like to amend the bill to cover dogs as well?

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