Monday, October 24, 2016

What's wrong with this picture?

Cropped ears, mutilations, animal welfare, cosmetic procedure

What is wrong with this picture?

This dog’s ears have been cropped. Ear cropping is a surgical procedure which involves removing part of the external ear, or pinnae, so that the ears stand upright. It can also involve taping to make ears pointy. If that sounds like a bit of a vague explanation it is. I’ve never performed this procedure.

Ear cropping, unless for legitimate medical reasons, is banned in many countries although interestingly a number of breed associations openly list vets willing to perform this procedure online. During the animal welfare conference I attended last week, the point was made that veterinarians willing to bend the rules for clients who demand procedures that are banned do not do the profession or animal welfare any favours. They may personally profit from performing such procedures but they are effectively acting as technicians for those who have less knowledge or care about animal welfare.

According to the Australian Veterinary Association’s policy on the Surgical Alteration of the Natural State of Animals, ear cropping of dogs is unacceptable because it does not benefit the health and welfare of animal and may be detrimental. You can read the full policy here.

ear cropping, animal welfare legislation, ear taping
Ear cropped is supposed to make dogs appear more alert.
The American Veterinary Association opposes tail docking and ear cropping “when done solely for cosmetic purposes”. In a linked document about welfare implications of ear cropping, the AVMA lists risks associated with general anaesthesia, postoperative care (prolonged taping and bandaging, discomfort during healing, the need for re-taping and re-bandaging and isolation from other dogs during the healing phase) and potential complications including failure of the ears to stand, distortion of the ears and the need for revision surgery (you can read it here). 

In the UK it is deemed a mutilation which is banned under the Animal Welfare Act and dogs with cropped ears cannot be shown at Kennel Club events.

From what I can ascertain, it is also banned in Portugal where this dog was photographed – but the origin of the animal is not known.