Tag Archives: animal cruelty

Ear Cropping

17 Jul

People always ask me if my job is sad, or if it is hard to deal with the losses. It is. There’s no doubt in that. But most of the time, the animals are sick, tired, old, and they are ready to go. It feels natural.

But last Saturday, one of the cases we saw really got to me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

We had a new puppy visit, a dog who had been picked up from the breeder the day before. Usually, these are happy appointments. Who doesn’t love an awkward and cheerful puppy? They jump all over you, they squirm, they get a confused look on their face when we take their temperature for the first time.

This puppy visit was a doberman. Doberman puppies are adorable. They have massive, club-like paws and soft muzzles. Unfortunately, they are often wearing the funny hats pictured above. Dobermans were originally bred to be guard and attack dogs. Owners started cropping their ears, so that attackers wouldn’t be able to grab onto them during an attack. Since then, it has become an AKC (American Kennel Club) standard for the breed. So the snobs of the world insist on keeping the tradition alive for appearances sake.

So nowadays, at the tender age of 7-12 weeks, doberman puppies (this is done in a couple of other breeds as well) are taken to a vet to have 2/3 of their naturally floppy ears cut off, stitched up, and taped to a Styrofoam cup on their heads. This is in hopes that their ears will eventually stand up on their own. If they don’t, further surgery is required. Again, let me reiterate that this is done for purely aesthetic reasons to comply with what the AKC says a doberman should look like.

So on Saturday, I held the sweet Doberman puppy while Dr. R cleaned the pus from the ear wounds and tried to remove the tape as gently as possible. The puppy screamed in pain and wiggled in my arms. It broke my heart. Hearing a puppy cry is always a sad, sad moment. But this stung especially, because it was so unnecessary. Dr. R explained to me that it is all because of the AKC’s standards and that most vets refuse to do the ear cropping procedure, herself included. It is even illegal in many European countries.

It’s so senseless. I brought the newly bandaged puppy back to her owner. She was texting away on her iphone. She had a Louis Vuitton purse on the chair next to her. And I was bringing her back her newest accessory. Of course, it wasn’t my place to say anything. But all I really wanted to know was, aren’t floppy ears just as adorable? Isn’t this just as fashionable?