The Shocking History of Declawing & Ear Cropping - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-03-2010, 04:36 PM
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Animal People News recently described why it's time to stop these surgical mutilations, and the outdated reasons some even in the humane community give for supporting them. I was especially taken aback by the original "use" of declawed cats. We've rejected dogfighters and their "sport", it's time to reject their cruel mutilations as well.

Declawing cats and ear-cropping and tail-docking dogs have in common that they are frequently performed surgical mutilations, lucrative for veterinarians who are willing to do them, which convey no benefit whatever to the animals.


But pervasive as the belief remains among humane workers that clawing furniture contributes significantly to cat surrenders at shelters, there has never been much data supporting it. More than a decade ago the National Council on Pet Population Study funded University of Tennessee researcher John New to coordinate the largest study ever undertaken of reasons for cat and dog surrenders to animal shelters. Scratching furniture did not factor in even 1% of cat surrenders, except as a possible reason for some landlords not allowing pets.

However, inappropriate elimination was among the top 10 reasons why cats were left at shelters. Declawing is a long-recognized factor in cats refusing to use litter boxes, since digging in litter can irritate a declawed cat's stumps. No reason associated with canine appearance or breed standards was cited at all as a reason for dog surrenders. Biting, often associated with humans misreading dogs' intentions, was among the top 10.

The original idea behind tail-docking was to keep fighting dogs from signaling intent to avoid a fight. The first practitioners of tail-docking appear to have been Elizabethan-era dogfighters, who also introduced ear-cropping to avoid having their dogs lose fights due to ear bleeding. Cropping and docking spread from fighting dogs to other breeds through emulation of the "dog fancy," which now means exhibitors of show dogs, but as recently as the early 20th century was a term used by The New York Times and other major newspapers almost exclusively in reference to betting on dogfights.

Ironically, dogfighters largely abandoned ear-cropping and tail-docking by the mid-20th century, to avoid being conspicuous, after dogfighting was outlawed in most of the U.S. Dogfighters preparing cats and kittens for use as live bait in training dogs meanwhile became the first practitioners of onychectomy, as the most common declawing operation is formally called. Veterinarians later refined, commercialized, and popularized the procedure.

Helen Keller, though deaf and blind, recognized the cruelty inherent in ear-cropping and tail-docking more than 100 years ago, and backed legislative efforts to ban both procedures.


Anti-ear-cropping and tail-docking bills won legislative approval in various states as early as 1913, only to be vetoed by governors under pressure from the "dog fancy."

Pennsylvania finally enacted an anti-ear-cropping bill that received gubernatorial approval in 1933.


In November 2008 the American Veterinary Medical Association executive board adopted a resolution stating that the AVMA "opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs," when done for cosmetic reasons. The AVMA asked breed fanciers "to remove mention of the procedures from their standards." The American Animal Hospital Association and the Canadian Veterinary Association had already adopted similar resolutions, as had the AVMA House of Delegates in 1999.


About 25 nations have reportedly banned declawing since then, including the United Kingdom, but the most of the humane community continues to accept declawing, albeit with misgivings, in hopes that it might reduce the volume of cats coming into shelters.


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#2 Old 01-03-2010, 04:46 PM
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I wish my dog still had his tail...I bet it'd be a cute one.

My folks had all of our cats declawed, and none of them ever suffered adverse effects from it (other than a few days of post-op pain), but I do think it's inhumane and unnecessary. Not to mention the fact that it renders the cat practically defenseless if they ever get out of the house.

I had no idea that is where those practices originated...barbaric.
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#3 Old 01-03-2010, 05:05 PM
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Horrible. People don't understand how declawing is inhumane, that it's actually amputation. Two of my cats have been declawed (all were adult rescues), and while they're both okay, one was dumped by a women screaming about her pissing everywhere-the cat had a bad urinary infection. The other was found in a park, who knows what led to his abandonment. Many people say it's better to declaw then give up the cats, but I don't that to be true at all. People dump declawed cats, both young and old. Cats can form so many other behavioral problems because of that, esp. when done after the spay/neuter.

I have nine family cats, and with few exceptions, they claw their posts.

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#4 Old 01-03-2010, 05:09 PM
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What troubles me is that so many vets not only still perform declawing but actually support it because they think it will "save" the cats from being surrendered. Apparently this position is maintained purely out of ignorance, much like people doctors who think their patients need to eat meat to be healthy.

I do understand that there are apartment owners and landlords who insist that tenants have their cats declawed if they want to be able to keep them. I think this attitude should be addressed in some way. There are so many solutions to keeping cats and allowing them to display their innate need to claw without destroying anything of value, but obviously apartment owners and landlords either don't know about them or don't care. Better education is the key.

ETA: It's also a tragedy that people get their cats declawed so they can keep them, and then the cat suddenly exhibits different behavior after the declawing, which probably leads to some of them being dumped anyway.

ETA: As for dogs having their tails docked and ears cropped, one of the vets on one of the Animal Cops shows (can't remember which city) said it best: "I'll do those when the dogs come in and ask for them."

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#5 Old 01-03-2010, 09:09 PM
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America does need to get clued in and catch up with the UK on this.
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#6 Old 01-05-2010, 09:14 AM
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Thanks for sharing this Peace, I had no idea!
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#7 Old 01-05-2010, 02:04 PM
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I had no idea what's how it all began. I definitely do not support any of that, never did. But now I have something to throw out there if there is ever a debate. You know, other than the fact that it's torture for the animals.
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#8 Old 01-26-2010, 06:22 PM
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I don't like the idea of de-clawing cats at all, but I don't think it should be made illegal. One of my cats came to us completely de-clawed, the other was a rescue who had been removed from his mother at a very young age and never been around another cat. He didn't know how to play and often would end up hurting our other cat on accident so we removed his front claws.

In situations like that I can see it. We were worried for the health of both of our cats, sure that if the male, Chauncy, scratched the other, Jasmine, in the eye or something she'd attack him and being larger and knowing to use her teeth would end up seriously injuring him.

In situations besides something like that, I'm completely against it. Though Chauncy never changed afterward I'm sure many have problems and te whole idea of taking something away that they need makes me shudder. It'd be like taking away the tips of a person's fingers.
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#9 Old 01-27-2010, 12:08 PM
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This is unbelievable, I'd never heard of this before, we don't do this with our cats in the UK, if people are going to keep an animal then they should accept all that goes with it.
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