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VT Ear Cropping Bill Moves Forward

(Wednesday, February 01, 2006)

S250, a bill to prohibit ear cropping in Vermont, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday and now moves to the full Senate. The bill was amended slightly to clarify that owners will not be penalized if they have their dogs' ears cropped in another state where the practice is legal. The new version also includes references to Vermont veterinarians' general support for the bill, as well as a list of countries that currently ban ear cropping.

Many other provisions in S250 remain the same. Under the bill, owners who crop ears in Vermont would still face a civil penalty of up to $3,000 for a first offense. Those who commit subsequent violations or who perform the procedure without anesthesia would face criminal charges. S250 does not prohibit owning, showing, buying or selling a dog with cropped ears, nor does it prohibit licensed veterinarians from performing ear cropping procedures for “therapeutic purposes.” However, according to the bill, prevention of ear infections will not be considered therapeutic.

Points to Consider:

  • The American Kennel Club strongly supports the humane care and treatment of all dogs. We recognize that ear cropping, as described in certain breed standards, is an acceptable practice integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided.

  • Passage of S250 may set a precedent for all veterinary practices in the state of Vermont. Once legislators determine they can ban certain elective procedures, they may be just a short step away from removing veterinarians' and owners' rights to make informed decisions about animal care and treatment.

  • Responsible dog owners and breeders, in close consultation with their veterinarians, should make informed decisions about their pets' health care—not the government.

  • S250 could create serious animal cruelty risks if owners who cannot obtain veterinary care for ear cropping procedures irresponsibly choose to seek less-qualified sources.

What You Can Do:

  • S250 now moves to the full Senate for consideration. Fanciers should immediately contact their Senators and politely express your concerns with this bill. To find out who represents you in the Vermont State Legislature, visit: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/findmember.cfm. Be sure to include your name and address in your correspondence to verify that you are a constituent.

  • Purebred dog owners should also contact their veterinarians and urge them not to support S250. Point out that veterinarians should be concerned about allowing the government and public opinion too much control over their practices.

  • Share this information with other fanciers and dog clubs. We need everyone's help!