New Brunswick

No more nip and tuck for show dogs: N.B. vets

New Brunswick veterinarians will soon no longer perform cosmetic surgery on dogs, docking tails or cropping ears to make them stand at point.

New Brunswick veterinarians will soon no longer perform cosmetic surgery on dogs, docking tails or cropping ears to make them stand at point.

Members of the New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association made the decision because they say it's not in a puppy's best interest to have its ears and tail trimmed just for a certain look.

Cathy Adams, a vet practising in Rothesay, near Saint John, said she cringes whenever dogs come in for these procedures because she believes they are painful.

"Usually, when it's done, it's done between three and five days old. It's done without the benefit of anesthesia. People say it doesn't really hurt them, but they scream when you do it," she said.

The decision to stop cropping and docking in animal hospitals is drawing criticism from some dog breeders and kennel clubs.

Judy Burn from the Saint John area, a judge at Canadian Kennel Club competitions, said the province-wide policy is unfair to breeders, and may even put dogs at risk if owners try to do the procedures themselves.

"They may attempt it themselves and probably end up a mess on their hands that the vet will end up seeing anyway. Then you get breeders, or someone that knows someone that can do it, and infections set in. To me, the dog ends up suffering," Burns said.

Dwain McLean, Canadian Kennel Club director for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, said the decision took his group by surprise because it had never heard veterinarians voice concerns about the procedures.

"It's very discouraging that the vet association would pass such a motion to be effective so soon without any consultation with the breeders with whom they've worked year after year," he said. 

McLean said there are standards set for certain breeds, and historic reasons for tail docking and ear cropping. This decision could mean local breeders will have trouble selling their dogs nationally and internationally, he said.

The kennel club oversees dog breeding and showing.

The New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association says it's following recommendations made by the national body. It'll take six months for the new rules to be fully implemented.