Ear cropping: the removal of part or all of the ear of a dog
Tail docking: the removal of part or all of the tail of a dog
In 2016, the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia voted to disallow their membership to crop ears or dock tails of dogs for cosmetic purposes. In accordance with section 231 of the CVBC Ethics and Standards (PDF), these procedures may only be done to treat injury or disease. As such, if a veterinarian performed these procedures outside of to treat injury and disease, they would be in breach of their ethics and standards and also potentially in breach of the Criminal Code and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (the “PCA Act”).
It is the position of the BC SPCA that unless medically required the cosmetic docking of tail or cropping of ears without the use of anesthetics or analgesia causes pain or suffering as reported by both the CVBC and CVMA. Complaints of tail docking and ear cropping may be investigated and provided they meet the charge approval standard as set out by the Crown, recommendations for charges pursuant to either the Criminal Code of Canada or the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will be forwarded to Crown Counsel.
Tail docking and ear cropping cause unnecessary pain, suffering and/or injury to a dog when the procedures are not medically necessary to treat injury or disease.
Recent studies (Mellor, 2018) demonstrate that dogs who have had their tails docked display signs of chronic pain and heightened pain sensitivity. The tail and ears also play a significant role in communication for canines, both with other dogs and to humans. Docked tails have been shown to result in more frequent aggressive encounters with other dogs. Tail and ear activity are closely linked with other dog behaviours and allow dogs to signal both negative and positive emotions, moods and intentions.