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Quebec's veterinary ordinance bans cosmetic surgery on pets

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As of 2017, veterinarians in Quebec are no longer allowed to dock their pets’ tails or ears for cosmetic reasons.

At the end of January, the province's veterinary ordinance banned certain cosmetic procedures for the first time in Quebec.

In seven provinces, ear and tail docking is already prohibited by law or government regulations.

In Quebec, veterinarians will no longer be allowed to dock or trim the tails of dogs, cattle and horses for cosmetic reasons.

The regulation also banned the docking of dogs and cats' ears because it violated the principles of animal welfare.

“We’ll just do it somewhere else”

Some breeders did not take this news positively, saying that pet owners could turn to the black market or go elsewhere to get the vaccination done.

Vital Berthelot, a breeder from Laval, says that without docked ears and docked tails, his miniature schnauzers would not be able to compete in countries like the United States, where the standard for the breed is still traditional.

However, the Quebec Veterinary Association points out that docking tails and ears can lead to infections and chronic pain.

“Tail docking is actually an amputation. It involves severing several vertebrae along with the nerves and tissue around them,” explains Dr. Karen Joy Goldenberg, a veterinarian at Pierrefonds Animal Hospital.

“The same principle applies to the ears. When you crop your ears, you're basically cutting off half of the ear, including the cartilage, just to give the ear a certain shape.”

The new law is in stark contrast to previous regulations in Quebec, which were similar to those in Alberta and Ontario. There, the decision whether to perform surgery is left to the individual veterinarian – although veterinary associations in these provinces generally oppose such procedures.