A bill is currently in the California State Assembly that, if it becomes law, would make cropping the ears of dogs illegal in that state.
Ear cropping is essentially cosmetic surgery for dogs. The dog is anesthetized and then its ears are surgically altered to make them stand up erect instead of flopping to the side.
Animal rights activists oppose the surgery as unnecessary, painful and placing the dogs at risk of complications. Dog breeders defend the procedure as reducing the risk of ear infection in some cases and producing more aesthetically pleasing dogs.
The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights supports the bill, with Pam Runquist saying in a press release,
When this issue came before the Legislature last year, there were dozens of dog breeders wearing buttons with the slogan, “It’s Our Choice.” We need to let the Legislature know that it’s not the dog’s choice to have a portion of their ears amputated simply for aesthetic preference of the caregiver. (Note: In response to concerns from dog breeders, this year’s bill clarifies that it is still legal for dogs with cropped ears to be shown, sold, adopted or reside within the state. Only the procedure of cropping a dog’s ears will be illegal).
Of course, much the same argument could be made about neutering dogs, which is certainly not the dog’s choice and which can cause pain and have potential side effects.
Frankly, I find ear cropping and tail docking to be a bit stupid, but cruel? No more so than other surgical alterations of dogs such as neutering.
The full text of AB 481 can be read here.
Help ban ear cropping in California. Press Release, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, March 31, 2005.