N.S veterinarians ban tail docking
Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010
CBC News

Veterinarians in Nova Scotia will no longer cut the tails and ears of dogs for cosmetic reasons,
prompting an outcry from some breeders.

Tail docking is popular for certain breeds like Doberman pinschers.Tail docking is popular for
certain breeds like Doberman pinschers. (CBC)The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association
is forbidding its members from doing surgeries that alter an animal's appearance solely for
cosmetic purposes.

Veterinarians say docking a Doberman pinscher's tail, for example, is unnecessary and cruel.

"In my opinion, Dobermans and Great Danes look great with their ears down and their long tails,
so there's no reason to mutilate them by causing them to meet an arbitrary breed characteristic
that has been around for so long that we can't remember why it's been around in the first place,"
said Dr. Frank Woodbury, a veterinarian in Halifax.

Mary Spinelli, a Doberman breeder in Dartmouth, disputes any suggestion that ear cropping and
tail docking is cruel, and therefore can't see any need for the new rules.

"There was no impetus from anybody in the dog community to say, 'Please, consider this
procedure,'" she said.

"These procedures have been performed for the better part of 100 years. They're not new, they're
not revolutionary and, by and large, they're not cruel. They're done in proper conditions."

Spinelli said a Doberman's tail is removed when the animal is about two days old, while the ears
are cropped at eight weeks.

She finds it hypocritical that the veterinary association is still allowing the declawing of cats.

"They have no qualms whatsoever about declawing cats, which is a far more invasive procedure
done when the cat is significantly older," she said.

The new rules go into effect on April 1, though they won't be enforced until October. Similar bans
on cosmetic surgeries are already in place in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and
Newfoundland and Labrador.

Spinelli, a registered breeder with the Canadian Kennel Club, won't crop the tails of her dogs
herself. She said the procedure should only be done under safe and clean conditions, like with

Another Doberman owner, Lendra Barker, fears that some owners will do whatever it takes to get
their dogs to conform to a certain look.

"The people who own these dogs want them performed and without a vet to be permitted to
perform these procedures, where is it going to go? Some people that aren't reputable may end up
doing it themselves without the benefit of anesthesia or sanitary conditions," said Barker, a past-
president of the Doberman Pinscher Club of Canada.

Non-veterinarians who attempt the surgeries on their own could be charged under Nova Scotia's
Animal Protection Act.

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