Quebec's order of veterinarians bans pet cosmetic surgery

In Quebec, veterinarians will no longer be allowed to dock or cut the tails of dogs, cattle, and horses for cosmetic reasons.

Ear-cropping, tail-docking prohibited as of 2017

This five-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Elle, has unclipped ears. In Quebec, veterinarians will no longer be allowed to dock or cut the tails of dogs, cattle and horses for cosmetic reasons. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Veterinarians in Quebec will no longer be able to crop the tails or ears of pets for cosmetic purposes beginning in 2017.

The province's order of veterinarians moved to prohibit certain cosmetic procedures in late January — a first for Quebec.

Ear-cropping and tail-docking are already prohibited in seven provinces either by law or regulatory bylaws.

In Quebec, veterinarians will no longer be allowed to dock or cut the tails of dogs, cattle and horses for cosmetic reasons. 

The order also banned ear cropping for dogs and cats, stating that it goes against the principles of ensuring an animal's wellbeing.

'We'll just do it somewhere else'

The news wasn't well received by some breeders, who say pet owners may turn to the black market or go somewhere else to have it done.

Vital Berthelot, a breeder in Laval, says without cropped ears and docked tails, his miniature schnauzers won't be able to compete in places like the U.S., where the standard for the breed is still traditional.

But the Quebec order of veterinarians says docking tails and cropping ears can cause infections and chronic pain.

"Tail docking is actually an amputation. You're cutting off multiple vertebrae with all of the nerves and tissue around it," said Dr. Karen Joy Goldenberg, a veterinarian at the Pierrefonds Animal Hospital. 

"Same idea for the ears. Cropping the ears, you're basically cutting half of the ear off with its cartilage, just to give the ear a specific shape."

The new law is a stark contrast to Quebec's previous rules which mirrored those in Alberta and Ontario, where the decision on whether to operate is left up to individual animal doctors— even though veterinary groups in those provinces oppose such procedures in principle.

With files from the Canadian Press


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