Somewhere between packing my car and dicing celery and cranberries, I missed it. On the day before Thanksgiving, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released a statement opposing ear cropping and tail docking for cosmetic purposes, and encouraging the elimination of cropped ears and docked tails from breed standards.
Not surprisingly, the American Kennel Club (AKC)—which was not consulted on the policy—took issue with the position and use of the term “cosmetic.” AKC calls these “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries.”
In particular, the AKC highlights the importance of these procedures in insuring the safety of dogs "that perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation.”
Setting aside, for the moment, the AVMA's clear exception for procedures essential to good health and preventing injuries, are we really talking about Homeland-protecting heroes? Isn't the bulk of this surgery performed for the conformation ring and breed standards? Maybe it's time to look across the pond, where European nations banned these practices in 1987.