After Quebec bans pet cosmetic surgery, Ottawa vet urges Ontario to follow suit

An Ottawa veterinarian says Ontario should follow the lead of most other Canadian provinces and ban cosmetic ear-cropping and tail-docking for pets.

Ontario 1 of 2 provinces that still allows ear-cropping, tail-docking

A boxer with natural ears, which haven't been cut into points. More veterinarians in Canada are speaking out against pet cosmetic surgery, such as docking the tails of puppies and cropping dog's ears into points. (Canadian Press)

An Ottawa veterinarian says Ontario should follow the lead of most other Canadian provinces and ban cosmetic surgery for pets.

Ontario and Alberta are the only remaining provinces where the decision to operate is up to individual veterinarians, after Quebec's order of veterinarians decided in late January to ban ear-cropping and tail-docking for cosmetic reasons.

The Quebec ban would go into place in 2017.

"I suspect that the same thing will hopefully happen with Ontario and Alberta very quickly," Dr. Dan Rodgers said on CBC Radio's All In A Day.

Rodgers, who has been practicing since 1977, said most veterinarians in Ontario already refuse to dock tails and crop ears for cosmetic purposes — including those at the Alta Vista Animal Hospital where he works.

"Generally, which I'm very happy to report, the whole feeling of well-being of animals and the care of animals is a very strong movement nowadays," he said. 

Listen to the full interview here.

"The feeling out there is, people don't want to see this type of thing done. And so there's pressure on the veterinary community not to do it, and consequently they're not."

In issuing its ban, the Quebec order of veterinarians said that docking tails and cropping ears can cause infections and chronic pain.

In Ontario, pressure to end the practice needs to be redirected to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, the body that could ban it, Rodgers said.

Show standards must change: Rodgers

The demand for tail docking usually comes from breeders for specific types of dogs, such as Dobermans, schnauzers and boxers, Rodgers said.

"They're born with a full tail and at, generally, two or three days of age, that tail is snipped off," he said.

"At one point they were considered breed standards ... This is the look they wanted. There may have been a purpose as a working dog but, really, practically, it's not necessary."

Kennel clubs in the U.K. now ban the showing of dogs with docked tails and cropped ears, but North American clubs have yet to do the same, Rodgers said.

The breeds with docked tails and cropped ears are often considered more "showy" and, as a result, are more likely to win, he said.

"That has to change, where either it's banned or judges are saying, 'No, we actually like the look of pets that have full tails or normal ears,'" he said.