Humane Canada™ opposes the surgical mutilation of animals, except procedures performed by a licensed veterinarian to alleviate suffering, or for reasons of injury or health. Unnecessary surgical procedures done purely for cosmetic purposes such as tail docking or ear cropping in pets or to disguise natural imperfections of any animal, which are painful, distressful, or restrictive of the function of the body part involved, cannot be condoned. The latter does not include the neutering of dogs and cats by a veterinarian as a pet population control measure.
Some procedures that are presently utilized in livestock husbandry (such as castration of cattle, swine, sheep and goats; tail docking of swine and sheep; dehorning of cattle and goats) should be performed in a humane fashion in the first few weeks of life. A licensed veterinarian should perform all castrations of horses with suitable chemical anesthesia and restraint. Dehorning of adult animals should be performed by a veterinarian using local anesthetic (corneal nerve block) and, possibly, sedation.
Humane Canada™ is committed to the elimination of painful, invasive practices and urges the agricultural community to search for acceptable alternatives. We oppose the tail docking of dairy cattle. Such a procedure violates the standard of care which is acceptable in animal management practices.
The declawing of cats and debarking of dogs can only be condoned if done after consultation as to other options with a licensed veterinarian in circumstances when the animal would otherwise be denied a home or face euthanasia.
(Sources: BC SPCA; Saskatchewan SPCA; American Veterinary Medicine Association and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Committee Position Statements)