Crop/Dock Bans Threaten the Rights of All Dog Owners
An important part of the American Kennel Club’s mission is to work to protect the rights of all dog owners. This year, an increasing number of states have seen legislation to outlaw cropping and/or docking. This should alarm all dog owners — not just those whose breeds have docked tails or cropped ears. These bills set a dangerous precedent that the government may determine breed standards, and, moreover, interfere in health care decisions for your dog — decisions that should be reserved for you and your veterinarian.
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The AKC, along with the parent clubs, is committed to protecting breed standards. This is why we adamantly oppose any legislation that bans cropping/docking or punishes exhibitors who show dogs according to dictates of their breed standards.
Elective surgery is a safe and common practice in animal husbandry. Cropping and docking are standard, long-accepted practices that protect the health and safety of dogs. Currently, 60 AKC breeds have cropped ears or docked tails, and three others (the Australian Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi) are often born bobtailed, but may have a docked tail. These procedures improve the quality of life for many dogs and often prevent future injuries when dogs are performing the tasks for which they are bred. The most common elective surgeries are spaying and neutering, procedures that are far more invasive than the tail docking, ear cropping, and dewclaw removal that legislatures are seeking to ban.
Tail docking is important because it prevents field and working dogs from getting their tails caught or damaged in underbrush or when crawling into a tight space or under a fence. Ear cropping can help prevent ear infections common among dogs with long, floppy ears. These breed characteristics also ensure the safety of dogs that on a daily basis perform heroic roles with the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Military, and local police departments, to name a few. These dogs protect tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation and would be unable to perform their duties safely without these established breed standards.
Section 8-D of the AKC’s Rules Applying to Dog Shows states that “Any dog whose ears have been cropped or cut in any way shall be ineligible to compete at any show in any state where the laws prohibit the same except subject to the provisions of such laws.” In other words, if a law that bans ear cropping or tail docking were enacted, then dogs that had such procedures would not be permitted to participate. The AKC encourages all dog owners to comply with all laws regarding dog ownership in their state and will not punish them by banning them from competition or ceasing to approve shows in that state. Likewise, the AKC will not penalize exhibitors who cannot crop or dock according to the standard because of state and local laws.
The American Kennel Club and its member clubs abhor animal cruelty and mistreatment. We support laws that target irresponsible and cruel owners and establish good standards for dog care. Breed standards include long-accepted animal husbandry practices and do not constitute animal cruelty. These procedures improve the health and safety of dogs and preserve the function the dog is bred to perform. The AKC will continue to fight to protect breed standards and your right to make the health decisions you deem best for your dog.
--Jennifer Clark, Government Relations Administrator