HSVMA Applauds Banfield for Stand Against Canine Cosmetic Surgeries

July 30, 2009

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association congratulates Banfield, The Pet Hospital®, for making a corporate decision to stop performing ear cropping, tail docking and devocalization procedures at its 745 hospitals throughout the United States. The company will still perform these surgeries when deemed medically necessary.

"This decision represents a significant step for the veterinary community in placing the health and welfare of our canine patients above aesthetic preferences or human convenience," said HSVMA Veterinary Consultant Dr. Barbara Hodges. "We look forward to Banfield taking similar action on behalf of felines by discontinuing cat declawing at its clinics."

Banfield's decision reflects a growing trend in the veterinary profession to take a stand against medical procedures which are performed on companion animals solely for the cosmetic preferences or convenience of the caregiver and which provide no medical benefit to the animal. The American Veterinary Medical Association adopted a policy opposing ear cropping and tail docking for cosmetic purposes in November 2008 and reaffirmed that policy at its recent annual meeting in July.

Other cosmetic and convenience procedures performed on cats and dogs include dewclaw removal and cat declawing. All of these procedures present surgical risks to the animal as well as potential long-term negative health effects. Some Banfield clinics still perform cat declawing surgeries, although the company stresses that options for dealing with destructive behavior in cats should be thoroughly explored prior to making a decision for surgery. AVMA still supports both declawing and devocalization after behavioral modification has failed.

HSVMA has an ongoing campaign against cosmetic and convenience surgeries. The campaign is designed to provide the veterinary profession with tools to educate the public and offer alternatives to these unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures. HSVMA is actively supporting a bill in the Massachusetts legislature (H.B. 344), which would ban convenience devocalization of dogs and cats.