09 November 2016

HEALTH - BC Veterinarians Ban Tail Docking

Members of the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia (CVBC) have voted in favour of banning the cosmetic tail docking of dogs, horses and cattle, and tail alteration in horses.

The ban makes the practice of tail docking and alteration an unethical practice of veterinary medicine, and veterinarians found continuing the practice will face disciplinary action from the CVBC.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act authorizes the BC SPCA to investigate and recommend charges against any person, veterinarian or otherwise, believed to be carrying out such procedures.

The CVBC banned ear cropping for cosmetic reasons last year and joins a number of other Canadian provinces including Quebec and the Maritimes in banning both of these procedures.

According to the press release: “No scientific evidence supports a welfare or medical benefit for tail docking or alteration, but evidence does show a detrimental effect on behaviour and animal communication, as well as the risk for infection and phantom pain.”

Some breed associations continue to resist bans because of historical practices.

However, College President Dr. Brendan Matthews points out, “veterinarians have an ethical responsibility to the animals they treat and tail docking goes against that responsibility. We ask other provinces to follow suit and for breed associations to recognize the changing times.”

The CVBC calls upon breed associations to bring about changes to their breed standards as has been done in other countries.

England, Wales and Scotland have banned the cosmetic docking of tails since 2007 and the UK Kennel Club does not allow dogs with cropped ears to compete in their shows.

If a dog’s tail has been docked after the legislation was enacted in 2007, the owner must apply to compete and provide a copy of the docking certificate/veterinary letter signed by their veterinarian.

Some individuals have expressed concerns that prohibiting veterinarians from performing cosmetic surgeries will lead to breeders or owners performing the surgery themselves.

This, however, has not been the case in jurisdictions that have passed similar bans in Canada.

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