Recently, we at PETA India fired off letters to numerous Indian veterinary regulatory bodies, including the Veterinary Council of India, state veterinary councils, central and state animal-husbandry departments, veterinary colleges and universities, and veterinarians’ associations, as well as the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)—a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change—urging them to implement and enforce the ban on cosmetic tail-docking and ear-cropping of dogs under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017.
The cruel procedures were originally banned by the Veterinary Council of India in 201l following an advisory issued by AWBI which explained that non-therapeutic tail-docking and ear-cropping mutilations amount to cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and that performing these procedures is therefore a punishable offence. Maiming dogs also violates Sections 429 of the Indian Penal Code. Nevertheless, the Madras High Court overturned the ban in 2013. AWBI filed an appeal against the order that is still pending, and PETA India has filed an intervention application in the matter. Although this 2017 Rule has been challenged before the High Court of Delhi, the Rajasthan High Court, and the Madras High Court, no interim stay has been granted to the petitioners, and the provisions of the Rules remain in force.
Ear-cropping, or cutting off a portion of a dog’s ears, even when performed by a veterinarian under general anaesthesia, causes post-surgery pain and psychological trauma and can lead to complications like infected wounds. The cut-apart ears are then taped and re-taped to try to force them into a pointed shape, causing the dogs further distress. Some breeders take matters into their own hands and use scissors or a blade to slice the dogs’ ears without anaesthesia or painkillers. Even when done by veterinarians, tail-docking is usually performed on puppies with scissors or a scalpel and without anaesthesia. As an alternative, breeders often use a ring to cut off the blood supply of the tail so that it eventually falls off.
Those who perform the procedures disregard how essential these body parts are to dogs—they use their tails, to a degree, for balance and use their ears and tails to communicate with their human guardians and other dogs.
Ear-cropping is also banned in Australia, New Zealand, many countries in Europe, and most Canadian provinces, and tail-docking is prohibited in Australia, Iceland, Israel, South Africa, and elsewhere.