Ear cropping. Veterinary profession finally speaks out.

Veterinary profession finally speaks out on ear cropping and banning import of ear cropped dogs.

dog cropped ears

It has taken sixteen years for the veterinary profession to make a stand over ear cropping.

The UK Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition announced recently that they are supporting the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and leading animal charities to close all the legal loopholes in the law that allow ear cropped dogs to be imported into the country thus circumventing the ban on ear cropping in the UK.

The loopholes are threefold. It is not illegal to sell, import or take a dog abroad to have their ears cropped which has been the ludicrous situation since the Animal Welfare Act 2004 came into being. The BVA wants UK vets to report any incidents of ear cropping that turn up at their surgeries which should have been happening anyway.

The veterinary profession are only taking more interest because of all the campaigning by animal charities and the present level of public opinion has given them the confidence to do so. They have had sixteen years to point out the shortcomings of the law regarding ear cropping and take a lead on the issue but have kept in the background.

Dog with cropped ears

Vets need to speak out about animal welfare problems.

The veterinary profession themselves have pointed out that they should not sit on the fence over welfare issues or wait until public opinion reaches a point which forces them to live up to their supposed animal welfare credentials. But they continue not to heed their own advice. To quote the BVA Animal Welfare Strategy of 2016:

“If we do not speak out about systemic animal welfare problems or if we only do so reactively once a critical mass of favourable public opinion has been achieved, then this can lead to accusations of weak morality and, worse, complicity in animal welfare problems. There are risks if veterinary professionals are not seen to be advocates for animal interests when the rest of society is increasingly willing to be”.

The moral and ethical conundrum of certain procedures carried out by vets have dogged the profession for decades. A US study way back in 1989 (Herzog) questioned veterinary students on various moral, ethical and welfare issues which they had encountered during training which they felt worried or stressed about and amongst the most prominent were ear cropping, tail docking, de-flighting birds and declawing cats.

There is yet another petition.

It is difficult to gauge how concerned the public are. There was an online petition last year aimed at stopping the import of cropped dogs but this failed to get half of the 100,000 signatures required. There is now a new petition with BVA backing which seems to be faring better which runs until the 24 August 2021. Paradoxically there is also a competing petition to re-legalise cropping to benefit all the dogs that are presently unprofessionally cropped and save them suffering. Sensibly it has not attracted much support so far.

Although everyone is fixated on ear cropping at the moment, tail docking appears to also be on the increase and must have been spotted by UK vets so perhaps they could take a lead on this issue as well?

Author: John Brookland

John Brookland has been passionate about animals from an early age and has always been more concerned about their individual health and well-being than any scientific or zoological interest. During his long and varied career in animal welfare in the U.K. and worldwide, he has unfortunately witnessed most of the horrors of animal cruelty there is to see and has gained extensive insight into animal welfare issues. On leaving school he trained as an RSPCA clinic assistant in London and later was manager of one of their veterinary hospitals and an animal centre. He was Chief Inspector and manager of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau and spent time in Trinidad advising on a humane stray dog control service, before becoming a deputy manager and animal health inspector at Heathrow's Animal Quarantine Centre. He then travelled the world for a conservation group investigating the capture and transport of wildlife for the pet trade and was an honorary consultant to the IUCN and CITES. He is now retired and still travelling the world with his partner to view wildlife and wild places and writing a blog and books on animals.

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