Utah Veterinary Medical Association Takes Issue with AVMA’s Stance on Tail Docking and Ear Cropping

I freely recognize that I practice veterinary medicine in one of the most progressive places in the world. Just a couple of states over, things...


I freely recognize that I practice veterinary medicine in one of the most progressive places in the world. Just a couple of states over, things are quite a bit different.

In November, 2008 the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) adopted an official policy against cosmetic ear cropping and tail docking. It turns out that some vets in Utah aren’t happy about that.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the July, 2009 issue of DVM Newsmagazine.

AVMA’s hard line too hard?
Call for softer stance on cosmetic surgery among resolutions facing convention delegates

Jul 1, 2009
By: Christina Macejko

SEATTLE The Utah Veterinary Medical Association (UVMA) wants the AVMA to lay off the “hard-line slant” it took when the policy on ear cropping and tail docking was changed late last year and is asking the House of Delegates (HOD) to soften the policy.

In November 2008, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) executive board changed the policy to read, “The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.”

While the association was not necessarily in favor of the practice before, the policy change, for the first time, explicitly states its opposition to it.

It’s a move that UVMA says was made under pressure from outside groups.
“One of the reasons the Animal Welfare Committee suggested a change to the executive board was to bring the policy more into line with the American Animal Hospital Association and other countries,” UVMA explains. “We are the American Veterinary Medical Association, not any other and do not need to apologize for our positions.”

I have said repeatedly that I believe ear cropping and tail docking as well as debarking and declawing will wane in availability in coming years. Each year fewer vets are willing (or even able) to perform these surgeries.

New graduates from veterinary school generally abhor the procedures. Older vets who have no moral qualms with the surgeries (and who evidently run the show in Utah) are retiring every day.

The demographic shift will settle this debate in time. Meanwhile, the ethical wrangling over the procedures continues.

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