California Considers Ban on Ear Cropping

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.

Activists Object to American Veterinary Medical Association’s Tsunami Relief Efforts

A number of animal rights activists were upset with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s choice of charities to aid the victims of December’s tsunami.

The AVMA announced that it would donate up to $500,000 in matching funds to Heifer International. Heifer International is an organization that aids the poor by providing livestock and training to poor families in the developing world. Naturally, animal rights activists have long opposed the organization.

In January, Pam Runquist of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights posted a press release to AR-NEWS quoting AVAR president Paula Kislak as saying,

Instead of sending veterinarians to help animal victims as AVAR has done, the AVMA has decided to donate up to $500,000 in matching funds to an organization hat misguidedly attempts to help people by promoting agriculture. Cattle, goats, and other farmed animals will be sent, used, and misused by the people for their eggs, milk, fur, or strength. The other very sad part is that the AVMA apparently doesn’t realize that providing crops and crop machinery would have been more appropriate, as many people in these areas are vegetarian. They shouldn’t be promoting an animal-based diet because it is unhealthy for the people and the environment. And, they certainly shouldn’t be supporting an organization that puts animals in harms way.

Runquist proves once again that there’s no stupidity like animal rights stupidity. Leaving aside for the moment Runquist’s horror that the AVMA is trying to do something for the people rather than the animals, Runquist’s complaint that “many people in these areas are vegetarian” shows her ignorance. Heifer International’s relief efforts are focused on Indonesia where it has had a presence in Sumatra for more than two decades. Like Aceh, the other area of Indonesia that suffered so greatly from the tsunami, Sumatra is predominantly Muslim.

Runquist’s press release adds that people should write and, “Tell the AVMA that it needs to get its priorities straight.” Sounds like its the AVAR that needs to get its priorities straight.

Animal rights activists Richard Gartner and Laurelee Blanchard followed Runquist’s request and sent a joint letter to the AVMA that read, in part,

We would appreciate the AVMA canceling its plans to send matching donations from AVMA members to Heifer International to help with tsunami relief efforts.

Many people in these disaster areas are vegetarian, so providing crops and crop machinery to the tsunami victims would be much more useful than shipping them livestock. Consider instead those farm animals in the tsunami areas in desperate need of veterinary attention. The AVMA ought to utilize its resources by sending veterinarians over there to help the animals affected by the Tsunami.

The crop machinery line is amusing — because some poor farmer is going to be able to maintain and use high-tech crop machines. In fact, as Runquist alluded to, many of the animals are used for their “strength” — i.e., to plow fields, etc.

AVMA executive vice-president Bruce Little responded saying,

The AVMA find HI’s comprehensive approach to disaster response most attractive. Heifer International and the AVMA recognize that environmental responsibility, indigenous traditions gender equity, and leadership training should not be separated from agricultural production. As part of its approach, HI not only provides life-sustaining animals that are appropriate for the land, resource needs, and culture, but also shows recipients how to properly care for these animals. Heifer International teachers farmers how to enrich their soil, curb erosion, conserve water, and use zero-grazing techniques to keep the land from being depleted. It also assists them in learning how to heat their homes using biogas.

With respect to tsunami efforts, HI is well-positioned to evaluate the affected areas, particularly since they have been operating in many of them for more than a decade. As you know, the epicenter of the earthquake that spurned the tsunami was just off Sumatra’s northwest coast. Heifer International’s Asia field staff is completing its assessment of conditions devastated by the tsunami and has recommended that HI expand existing development programs in Northern Sumatra, one of the areas hardest hit by the disaster. Heifer International and its partner organizations will work together and comprehensively over the next few years to rebuild existing animal and plant agricultural production, increase family incomes, and support housing, educational and public health efforts.

Imagine that — actually carrying about what happens to the people. The activists might want to try that sometime.


Tell AVMA to rethink tsunami relief effort pledge. Pam Runquist, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, January 31, 2005.

AVMA’s bogus justification for supporting Heifer International. Laurelee Blanchard, AR-NEWS, February 2, 2005.

California Activist Groups Form State Association

A number of animal rights groups in California have banded into a new statewide coalition, the California Animal Association, to “represent the interest of animals at the [California] state capitol.”

A press release sent out by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announcing the formation of the group said,

After more than a year of planning, CAA was formed to bring a stronger and more cohesive voice for animal protection to Sacramento. Many of the animal welfare and animal rights groups involved in CAA have individually or in small groups worked on legislation to strengthen animal protection laws or to defeat legislation that weakens protections for animals with California.

The members of the coalition include: American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legislative Action Network, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, California Animal Defense and Anti-Vivisection League, California Lobby for Animal Welfare, Doctors for Kindness to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, Orange County People for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Paw Project, United Animal Nations, United Poultry Concerns and Viva! USA.


Animals gain strong and unprecedented voice in Sacramento. Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Press Release, January 12, 2005.

UPC and Other Groups Urge Signing of SB 1520

Yesterday, I noted that Friends of Animals sent out a press release opposing California SB 1520 which would outlaw force feeding of birds for the production of foie gras in 2012. Shortly after the Friends of Animals press release, United Poultry Concerns issued a press release urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the bill and slamming groups opposed to the bill.

The UPC press release said it was joined in support of the bill by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, VivaUSA, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals,, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League.

According to UPC,

The bill if enacted will abolish a farmed animal abuse. The fact that
there will be a phase-in period is not a reason to oppose this bill. We have
applauded the banning of battery-hen cages in the European Union and in
Austria, and the banning of sow gestation crates in Florida, but all of this
important legislation for farmed animals includes phase-in periods. No one
who supports farmed animal protective legislation wants to wait for the law
to take effect, but that is now how the legislative process works. Yes, the
foie gras industry is going to use the time to try to overturn the law and
do other nefarious things, but this means that our public education work is
cut out for us. Given the facts of foie gras production and the videotaping
of the procedure that we have (Delicacy of Despair), it seems unlikely that
the public is going to be persuaded to abandon the ducks and oppose a ban on
foie gras production and sale in California.

. . .

Those groups who actively oppose SB 1520 could lobby at state and federal
levels to try to enact legislation that would ban foie gras production/sale
immediately, but they are not doing so. Instead, they are obstructing the
passage of this bill while offering no real alternative, just bashing the
bill and the groups that have worked so hard to get the bill introduced and
to retain as much of the original intent of the bill as possible.

United Poultry Concerns urges activists to support SB 1520 and to refuse to
reject this opportunity in pursuit of a purist fantasy. The objections being
raised against SB 1520 are unrealistic given the realities of the
legislative process and the enormous obstacles that farmed animals have
traditionally faced legislatively. Sabotaging this bill is going to hurt the
ducks, not help them.

The foie gras ban is one of about 1,000 bills that Schwarzenegger must either sign or veto by then end of September. Schwarzenegger has previously called the bill “silly” and pointed to it as an example of why California needs a part-time legislature.


Why UPC Supports SB 1520 and Urges Everyone Else to Support the Bill. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 31, 2004.

California State Senator Introduces Bill to Ban Foie Gras

In February, California state Sen. John Burton introduces a bill in the state senate to ban the production of foie gras within that state.

After introducing his bill, Burton told reporters that the force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras should be outlawed,

They put a tube down their throat, down their esophagus, and shoot that food down there, whether they want it or not, cram it right down their gullet. And many places, other countries have banned it. The state of Israel has banned it. I just think it’s the right thing to do.

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights issued a press release in early February touting a coalition of animal rights groups that will be doing their part to support the bill and asking activists to contact California legislators with their support for the bill. The press release said,

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) is working with a coalition of groups including Farm Sanctuary, Viva!USA and LA Lawyers for Animals, as the sponsors of this bill.

. . .

We need your help to ensure that this bill is passed into law and this inhumane practice is ended in our state. There is only one foie gras producer in California (Sonoma Foie Gras), but they’ve already hired an attorney to work on their behalf and have recruited exclusive restaurateurs to fight for this high-priced luxury item made from diseased ducks.

The full text of the bill can be read here.


Help ban force feeding of ducks in California. Press Release, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, February 2004.

Sacre bleu! No more foie gras from California?. Spencer Swartz, Reuters, February 12, 2004.

Paula Kislak Elected As President of Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights

In a September 9 press release, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announced they that Paula Kislak, DVM, was elected as the next president of the animal rights group. He succeeds AVAR co-founder Nedim Buyukmihci.

According to the press release,

Dr. Kislak, a vegan, has been an AVAR board member since 1998 and was on its advisory board prior to that. She is considered by many as an “activist’s [sic] activist” because of her involvement with many animal rights issues. For example, Dr. Kislak has been an anti-greyhound racing activist since 1992, she was instrumental in passing California’s sweeping animal shelter reform law of 1998, and she continues to assist with efforts to help animals both locally and in Sacramento. She is a consultant and on boards of several groups, including Santa Barbara Animal Rescue, Animalkind and Neva Foundation.

In September 2000 Kislak wrote an op-ed for the Northern Virginia Journal complaining that animal issues were left out of the presidential election debates,

Nonhumans are, and always have been, systematically left out of election debates and platforms. We wonder how it is that life can only revolve around one species and the interests of the millions of other species aren’t even worthy of notice by a presidential candidate.

We call this “speciesism,” which is a prejudice against other species. This assumes that we humans are the pinnacle of the evolutionary scale. Nonhumans don’t vote, but our children don’t either. Yet, when it comes to all the rhetoric about protecting the downtrodden, the vulnerable and those whose interests are often overlooked, those that are the most vulnerable aren’t even in the discussion.


Santa Barbara veterinarian to lead national veterinary group focusing on animal rights. Press Release, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, September 9, 2003.

Animal protection should have higher campaign profile. Paula Kislak, Northern Virginia Journal, September 2000.