AVMA House Rejects Policy Change On Ear Cropping And Tail Docking

by Veterinary Practice News Editors | July 10, 2009 5:59 pm

The American Veterinary Medical Assn.’s[1] House of Delegates on July 10 rejected Resolution 4, which would have revised its policy on ear cropping and tail docking of dogs.

The action came during the legislative body’s semi-annual session, held in Seattle, Wash., before the AVMA’s annual convention.

Submitted by the Utah Veterinary Medical Assn., the resolution would have eased the AVMA policy, adopted by the executive board in November 2008, that opposes ear cropping and tail docking when done solely for cosmetic reasons.

The revision would have noted that the procedures, though offering limited or no therapeutic value, are condoned by the American Kennel Club[2] and many members of society. Because of that acceptance, the policy would have stated that it is “imperative that the procedures be performed by trained, licensed and caring veterinarians using current stand of care” while continuing to support the elimination of those procedures from breed standards.

In addition, the resolution would have revised AVMA policy to ensure that association members “conform to all state mandates concerning the procedures.”

The November 2008 policy significantly altered the AVMA’s position against the two procedures; previous policy recommended only that veterinarians discuss with clients the cosmetic nature of the procedures before performing them.

A major reason for the resolution was to defend veterinarians willing to perform such procedures who might otherwise be ostracized by the profession for going against AVMA policy. 

In its argument in favor of the resolution, the Utah VMA said the AVMA should be wary of restricting pet owners’ rights because it supports the concept of pet ownership.

In other action:

Jointly submitted by the Washington state and New Jersey veterinary medical associations and the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Resolution 3 would remove the clause “when under the direction of a veterinarian” from the existing sentence “Judicious use of antimicrobials, when under the direction of a veterinarian, should meet all requirements of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.”

The rationale for the revision is that veterinarians should always be the decision-makers regarding the judicious use of antimicrobials and that the clause in question clouded the issue. 


  1. American Veterinary Medical Assn.’s: http://www.avma.org
  2. American Kennel Club: http://www.akc.org

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