Banfield, The Pet Hospital®, is based in Portland, Oregon and operates several veterinary practice hospitals in the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico. They employ thousands of veterinary personnel and staff. As the largest privately held veterinary practice in the US, when they make an "in-house" decision, it is news.
Banfield recently announced that the practice group will no longer perform cosmetic (elective) ear crops and tail docking for dogs. They join many veterinary practices who have already elected not to perform these cosmetic procedures.
Ear cropping is when the floppy ear portion of some dog breeds (examples: Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Boxer, Schnauzer) is surgically removed - amputated - to make the ear stand up. Opinions vary, but this was originally done to adhere to breed standards; the desired "look" of the breed.
Tail docking is also done for some breeds (examples: Cocker Spaniel, Boxer, Doberman, Vizsla) and is the amputation of the tail, the length of remaining portion of tail is determined by the breed standard. Some breeds, such as the Welsh Corgi, have naturally occurring short tails, but are sometimes docked to be shorter.
Tail docking has been discussed many times on this site. Medical reasons to crop or dock are not in question -- there are definitely medical reasons for docking and partial ear flap removal too, most often in the case of injury or diseases such as cancer removal.
Ear cropping and tail docking for purely cosmetic reasons has been banned in many countries, including the United Kingdom. The AVMA and the WSAVA, two veterinary organizations, have spoken out against ear cropping and tail docking, in opposition to the official position of the AKC (PDF document, page 10) about breed standards.
Banfield is hoping to educate the public and end these surgeries for cosmetic purposes. "It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether" says Karen Faunt, DVM, MS, DACVIM, vice president for medical quality advancement for Banfield, The Pet Hospital. Read full press release
I am glad for the awareness and discussion, as I am definitely not for these types of surgeries (medical reasons excepted of course). There was a story earlier this year about Oliver, a sweet 4-month old puppy who had his ears amputated without anesthesia. With a scissors. Something was then used to burn the ears to stop the bleeding. All of this done so the dog would "look tough" as he grew older.
While the people who did this to Oliver won't be swayed by this announcement, maybe the general public will recognize the choice involved here. I hope that eventually the natural look is the desired look.
What do you think?
What is your opinion about cosmetic ear crops and tail docks? Have you had your dog cropped or docked? Why did you elect to do the procedure(s)? Please post your comments below.
- Banfield's position on debarking and declawing
From Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM, About.com Guide to Veterinary Medicine
- Banfield Says No More Cosmetic Surgery For Dogs
From Jenna Stregowski, RVT, About.com Guide to Dogs
- Read more on Ear Cropping and Tail Docking from Jenna Stregowski, RVT, About.com Guide to Dogs
Photo: Doberman Pinscher by Getty Images/George Jones
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