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Ear cropping. Veterinary profession finally speaks out.

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

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?

Why 62.5% of the Grand National runners did not finish.

62.5% of horses did not finish the 2021 Grand National and two died. Are we all guilty for allowing this unnecessary suffering to continue.

In memory of The Long Mile & Houx Gris

The 2021 Grand National spectacle and pageant is over with just two deaths and those are anti-horseracing and those that stage the event are both probably breathing a sigh of relief but for different reasons. Those against because only two horses were sacrificed in the carnage to satiate our betting addiction and for the organisers it means the any bad publicity and outrage is kept minimal. Only 15 horses finished or to put it another way, 25 (62.5%) of the field of 40 did not finish. It is a very telling statistic.

Are we putting too much emphasis on how many die?

We are obviously all thankful that only two horses died, but this is still too many. But are we being side tracked by putting too much emphasis on how many die rather than concentrating on the legalities of putting all these horses through such mental and physical suffering, and the unnecessary danger and over exertion just to entertain and feed our entrenched gambling habits.

In this years race, 15 horses pulled up, 4 fell, 4 unseated their rider, and one very sensible horse named Ballyoptic called it quits and refused to jump. This is an increase on last year. Realistically the large number of non-finishers must mean that the course is too punishing for most of the horses and they are either not fit enough or just not up to it. So are we all guilty of condoning this unnecessary suffering and could it be classified as contravening welfare laws? The evidence may be in the statistics.

15 horses were pulled up meaning their riders felt they were suffering and it was cruel to put them through any more punishment. The four that unseated their riders were no doubt too weakened and exhausted and did not jump in the way the rider anticipated. The four who fell were pushed too far risking serious injury and possible fatal consequences. The two that died were definitely pushed beyond their capabilities.

Riderless race horse

Trivial changes to the course will never prevent horse suffering.

Although the racecourse authorities have made changes to the fences, stables, cooling down procedures and god knows what to improve “horse welfare,” everyone knows that the race in its present state will never be safe for the horses or riders unless you remove the fences altogether and shorten the race. At present it is purely an endurance event and more like the Charge of the Light Brigade or ancient Rome’s chariot racing than a civilised sporting event.

In Australia jump racing is increasingly being viewed as outdated and attendances are falling in Victoria and South Australia, the only two states which haven’t banned jump racing. These states are under pressure to follow suit in the wake of the others who banned jumping decades ago. 74 horses were killed in races and many more injured in 2020 in the two states. There is considerable campaigning at the moment, but in the UK there isn’t the same level of interest in stopping it.

To truly do everything to protect the horses and jockey’s welfare would involve removing all the excitement, the spectacle and the pageant for the baying crowd to enjoy. Unfortunately horse racing like football is ingrained into our sporting pysche and is a sport enjoyed by the masses and so will never be banned entirely, but the death rate could easily be banished by banning jumps to the history books.

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