Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cropping Dog's Ears. Why Do We Still Do It?

There has been no proof at all that there is any medical benefit in ear cropping dogs (Otoplasty). Yet still it goes on. The most common, pathetic argument for it is that it keeps the ear canal vented, therefore reducing the risk of ear infections and is easier to clean. Well, if you are a responsible pet owner cleaning and grooming your animal should be a daily ritual you do anyway.

The breeds of dog that are commonly subjected to this barbaric procedure are American Pit Bull Terriers, Min-Pins, Boxers, Great Danes, Schnauzers, Bouviers and Dobermans. Between the young age of 6-12 weeks is usually when ear docking is carried out. It has to be done under full anaesthetic, which is a danger to all young animals.

About two thirds of the ear skin (pinna) is cut away including many nerve endings. The ears are then stitched up, splinted and bandaged. Also there is the high risk of blood loss and infections occurring, as a puppy's immune system isn't fully developed at this stage, so illness is a big factor. The skin around the ears becomes extremely sensitive and the redressing and splinting of the ears doesn't help either. Naturally the pup will want to scratch and pull at the plasters as it is extremely uncomfortable and gets very itchy. This will obviously lead to possible infections and the healing process can take months. Even after surgery and recovery time there is no guarantee that the dogs ears will stand up. They're not supposed to! It is mainly done for cosmetic reasons, for breeders who exhibit their dogs at shows. Many show dogs have their ears cropped because it has been part of their breed standard for years. Many people who have these breeds as pets also want the 'traditional' look of cropped ears.

The Kennel Club in the UK has banned the exhibition of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails in dog shows as of 2007. However The American Kennel Club has fought such laws. In statements against them, the AKC says this "as prescribed in certain breed standards, (they) are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health and preventing injuries," and that "any inference that these procedures are cosmetic and unnecessary is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs."

What a load of nonsense!

There is some hope though as the AVMA (Association of Veterinary Medicine) in 2003 said that it was against ear cropping as well as tail docking. The AVMA's position on ear cropping and tail docking, adopted on July 9, 1999, states: "Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anaesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries."

Ear cropping isn't being taught now in most veterinary colleges, which definitely says something. Hopefully as the new generation of vets graduate and begin to practise, they will be as disgusted as the majority population is with this barbaric procedure and in time it will die out.

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