The UK is set to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears, amid an apparent upsurge in the practice spurred by pop stars and other celebrities that has prompted vets to call for more rules strict.
Britain’s ruling Conservative government announced this week that it will introduce the import ban as part of a series of measures designed to improve animal welfare, including mandatory cat microchipping and the ban electric shock training collars. The new rules will be introduced for parliamentary votes via a series of bills, the government said on Wednesday.
The move is a victory for the British Veterinary Association, a British pressure group for the profession, which joined animal welfare organization The Foal Group last year to launch a petition calling for an import ban cultured dogs. The petition garnered more than 100,000 signatures, forcing lawmakers to look into the matter.
The push for change in Britain adds to the global debate over whether to ban or at least restrict procedures that offer little or no benefit to animal health, such as cultivation of ears, tail and declawing cats.
The UK banned cultivation of ears a long time ago, but owners can import cultured dogs – a loophole the BVA fears acts as a smokescreen for illegal crops grown at home.
Ear cultivation is banned in many places, including Europe and Australasia, but is permitted in the United States. The process, also known as cosmetic otoplasty, involves cutting off part of a dog’s atria – and sometimes supporting what’s left with duct tape and splints – so the ears will straighten out. It is believed that the erect ears make the animal more intimidating.
At worst, cultures are done roughly by non-veterinarians using scalpels or scissors and without anesthetic. When performed by veterinary professionals, the process potentially exposes animals to the ordinary surgical risks of infection and complications during anesthesia.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cropped dogs experience discomfort during healing, stretching, rebounding, and bandaging, which discourages the practice. Additionally, dogs use their bodies, including their ears and tails, to communicate. It is widely understood that erect ears, for example, can indicate attention, slightly flattened cuteness of the ears, and aggression from well-flattened ears. The effect of cropping the ears on dog communication does not appear to have been thoroughly researched.
Vets and charities watch influential celebrities
Dr Daniella Dos Santos sees “more and more” dogs with cropped ears in practice, mostly puppies and young adults. “I don’t tend to see older dogs with cropped ears, which fits the theory that this is an emerging trend that we are seeing,” said Dos Santos, senior vice president of BVA, at the VIN press service.
Dos Santos’ experiences in a practice in Kent, England, where she recently moved from, are supported by anecdotal evidence from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an animal welfare charity . In February, he claimed to have seen a 236% increase in ear culture cases, from 14 in 2015 to 47 in 2019, with a total of 178 reports over the five-year period.
The rise, according to Dos Santos and others, correlates with celebrities featuring more and more cultured dogs on social media and in video clips. British stars recently named in the popular press for being associated with the practice include pop star Rita Ora and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
To what extent the practice should be regulated is a controversial issue at the international level. On a bulletin board of the Veterinary Information Network, an online community for the profession and parent of VIN News, more than a dozen veterinarians recently spoke on the subject. Several expressed a wish for the practice to be banned in the United States, while another suggested that bans would encourage owners to seek the operation from unscrupulous actors. One described cropping as an art form, if done correctly; others doubted that many older vets would teach cultivation techniques to the next generation.
Dr Victoria Bentley, who practices in Medina, New York, personally finds crops unpleasant, but opposes strict regulations. “I don’t want anyone telling me how to practice medicine,” Bentley wrote on VIN. “I prefer that this decision be made between me and the client. Let’s not settle to death.”
Public outrage over cultures appears to be more low-key in the United States, although at least one celebrity there, Scott Disick, in 2017 gained attention on social media for having his ears cut off. pit bull. Other American celebrities, such as comedian and actor Kevin Hart, proudly share photos of their cut dogs (in Hart’s case, two Doberman pinschers) with little noticeable reflection.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told VIN News it does not have any data indicating whether the practice of cob growing in the United States has increased, decreased, or remained stable. “Responsible breeders reject cruel practices and do not subject their dogs to permanent physical alterations that are performed solely for cosmetic purposes,” said a spokesperson for the charity.
Degenerative bans show potential for regulatory change in US
Nine US states regulate the cultivation of cobs, but none of them prohibit it, according to the AVMA. Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania prohibit the cultivation of ears except by a licensed veterinarian. Washington allows it when it is considered a “customary breeding practice”. A number of states have rules on stowing the tails of horses or cattle, but only two – Maryland and Pennsylvania – have restrictions on stowing the tails of dogs, according to the AVMA. New York lawmakers have proposed bills to ban ear and tail cropping in dogs for cosmetic purposes, but none have gone beyond the limit.
Lawmakers recently responded with success against another controversial surgery. In 2019, New York became the first US state to ban declawing in cats. Eleven major US cities also ban the practice, according to advocacy group Alley Cat Allies – the latest being Austin, Texas, in March.
Cat declawing, or onychectomy, is the amputation of a cat’s third phalanx, or bone, toes to stop scratching behaviors that might otherwise lead owners to abandon or euthanize the animal. The AVMA discourages declawing, which opponents of the practice say causes pain, lameness and behavior problems, but the national group and some state-based veterinary associations are stopping before advocating for prohibitions.
Last month, a bill banning declawing in California was withdrawn after it was rejected by the California Veterinary Medical Association, which called it “an inappropriate attempt to legislate on the scope of practice of veterinary medicine and interfere with clinical decision making in the context of a veterinarian. -the client-patient relationship. “
Regarding ear culture, Bentley, the practitioner from New York State, suggests that instead of targeting politicians, proponents of change in the United States could target breed registries and dog shows that still support the practice. The American Kennel Club includes cropping and tail trimming in some breed standards, such as the Doberman pinscher, saying that these are “acceptable practices that are integral to defining and maintaining character. race and / or improved health. ” The AKC adds that “appropriate veterinary care should be provided”. The Kennel Club in the UK, on the other hand, does not allow dogs with cropped ears in its events.
Dos Santos, the English veterinarian, believes that ear cultivation is outside the scope of veterinary medicine as it does not concern animal health. “The reality is that this is unnecessary mutilation with no medical benefit – and rightly illegal mutilation in this country,” she said in a recent interview.
Dos Santos on Wednesday described the government’s commitment to change the rules in the UK as a “huge victory” for animal welfare. “The BVA and our members are happy to assist the government with whatever is needed to help implement these measures as soon as possible,” she said.