Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

Ashley MacDonald


Cirac's ears were incorrectly (and most likely very painfully) cropped, leaving them susceptible to flies and pests, and him less able to communicate with other dogs.

Ear cropping in dogs refers to the practice of cutting off part of a dog’s ear flap, and then bandaging the ear so that it heals in an upright position. Tail docking involves cutting off the majority of the dog’s tail, usually when it is just a few days old. These practices have been carried out on domestic animals such as sheep (yes, they have tails!), pigs, horses, cows, and dogs for hundreds if not thousands of years. In working dogs, cropping and docking were historically carried out for “practical” purposes: to prevent injury and subsequent infection when dogs were protecting humans or hunting game.

Today, these procedures are almost entirely cosmetic. The AMVA openly opposes these operations when done for cosmetic purposes, while the AKC has gone so far as to vehemently oppose a New York bill seeking to ban the practices. The AKC preaches the continued utility of these amputations, stating: “tails are docked on breeds that are active in the field…pain if any, is momentary, but this procedure will prevent painful, serious injury later in life.”  Continue reading

Pennsylvania State Legislator Fights for Animal Cruelty Bill

ear cropThomas Caltagirone, Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, authored an animal cruelty bill that is currently languishing in the Senate even though it passed the House unanimously in March.  The bill would outlaw ear cropping and “debarking” of dogs.   Mr. Caltagirone is tired of waiting.   He has declared that no one else’s bill will cross his transom until the Senate acts on his.  None.  Since he chairs a rather important committee, his threat carries significant heft.  I will look forward to and hope soon to hear about the bill’s forthcoming passage.

One rarely finds politicians willing to go to the mat for animals.  It is therefore a privilege and a delight to salute those who do.  Bravo, Representative Caltagirone.  Bravo.

–David Cassuto