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.

California AB 418 – Ban on Ear Cropping


INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Koretz

FEBRUARY 15, 2005

An act to add Section 597.7 to the Penal Code, relating to animals.


AB 418, as introduced, Koretz. Dogs: animal cruelty: ear cropping. Existing law makes it a crime for any person to engage in acts that constitute cruelty to animals, as specified. This bill would make it a misdemeanor for any person to perform, or otherwise procure or arrange for the performance of, an ear cropping procedure on any dog within this state, except if performed by a licensed veterinarian solely for a therapeutic purpose, as defined. The prohibition would not apply to the owning, harboring, selling, buying, adopting, or showing at a dog show or competition of a dog with cropped ears. A person who violates this provision would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $10,000, as specified. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program upon local government.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.


SECTION 1. Section 597.7 is added to the Penal Code , to read: 597.7. (a) Any person who performs, or otherwise procures or arranges for the performance of, an ear cropping procedure on any dog within this state is guilty of a misdemeanor.(b) (1) This section does not apply to a procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian solely for a therapeutic purpose. (2) Nothing in this section shall prohibit any of the following: (A) Showing a dog with cropped ears in a dog show or competition.

(B) Owning or harboring a dog with cropped ears. (C) Selling, buying, or adopting a dog with cropped ears. (c) A peace officer, officer of a humane society as qualified under Section 14502 or 14503 of the Corporations Code, or officer of an animal control or animal regulation department of a public agency, as qualified under Section 830.9 of the Penal Code, may enforce this chapter. (d) (1)Any person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation. (2) The civil penalty shall be payable to the local agency initiating the proceedings to enforce this section to offset the costs to the agency related to court proceedings. (e) A person or entity that violates this section may be prosecuted by the district attorney of the county in which the violation occurred, or by the city attorney of the city in which the violation occurred. (f) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings: (1) "Ear cropping" means the surgical alteration, manipulation, or removal of any part of a dog's ear so that the ear then heals in a pointed, erect, or severed state. (2) "Therapeutic purpose" means a medically necessary procedure to address a disease or injury of the dog's ear or to address a condition that jeopardizes the dog's health. "Therapeutic purpose" does not include the prevention of an ear infection. SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

South Korea Moves Toward Formal Regulation of Dog Meat Industry

The South Korean government did not win any friends among animal rights activists when it moved in March to formally regulate — and de facto legalize — the dog meat industry in that country.

The killing of dogs for food currently exists in a quasi-legal status in South Korea. There are several bans on specific methods of killing dogs, but there is no ban per se on killing and selling dogs for meat. The result is that dogs are killed and sold for meat, but the production of dog meat is largely unregulated and ignored.

According to the Korea Times, the South Korean cabinet announced in March that it would draw up a series of regulations intended to regulate the killing of dogs for meat in order to ensure dog meat being sold in the country is processed in a safe manner.

The Korea Times quoted an unnamed official as saying,

To legalize the dog meat trade, the law on livestock slaughtering should be revised to included dogs. But last week’s decision is only intended at thoroughly controlling the hygiene standard of dog meat, which is considered as food in reality.

I take that to mean that the government recognizes that a ban on dog meat simply wouldn’t work and it is better off regulating dog meat rather than cracking down on it and driving it further underground, which might lead to even poor standards for killing and processing of dog meat than currently exist in South Korea.

This did not go over well with the Korea Animal Protection Society which issued a press release saying, in part,

Setting a hygiene standard on dog meat means nothing but legalizing the dog meat industry. We cannot believe ethe government is moving to legalize the dog-eating practice of some Koreans, which is not only harmful to national interests but also disgraceful and reproachable.


Howls of protest from both sides greet proposed South Korean dog meat rules. Stars and Stripes, March 16, 2005.

How Not to Think Logically about an Animal Issue

Hawaii’s state House briefly considered a bill that would have banned the sale of cats or dogs for food in the state.

The bill never made it out of committee, and Hawaii state Rep. Alex Sonson complained that merely introducing the bill raised harmful stereotypes about Asians.

The bills supporters used a priceless form of logic — since they had no evidence about any sort of widespread eating of cats and dogs in Hawaii, it follows that eating cats and dogs must certainly be widespread.

Here, for example, is Derrick DePledge of the Advertiser Capitol Bureau, on one such supporter,

The Hawaiian Humane Society and animal rights groups wanted the Legislature to pass the bill to protect both pets and strays. “I’m disappointed,” said Renita Chang, president of the Hawai’i Dog Foundation. She said she has only heard stories about people killing dogs and cats for food, but believes it is more common than people think.

“I don’t think it’s exaggerated at all,” Chang said.

Well, of course. If you’ve only heard stories and not seen any actual evidence, it must be true. You know, just like that Irish kid who wants to set a record for receiving the most cards or the terrorists buying UPS uniforms on E-Bay. I heard stories about it somewhere — must be true.


No Law Against Eating Dogs And Cats. Associated Press, March 2005.

Bill to ban sale of cats, dogs for food dies in the House. Derrick DePledge, Advertiser Capitol Bureau, March 5, 2005.

Activists in UK Target Greyhound Racing

The Independent published a story recently suggesting that after the ban on fox hunting with hounds finally goes into effect in Great Britain, that activists will turn their attention next to outlaying greyhound racing.

According to The Independent, greyhound racing in the UK is a Pound 2.5 billion annual business. There are a total of 51 greyhound racetracks in Great Britain, with 31 part of the British Greyhound Racing Board and the other 20 being independent and unlicensed tracks.

Animal rights activists charge that as many as 6,000 dogs are abandoned or put to death by those involved in greyhound racing once their usefulness in the races has finished. Organizers of greyhound races counter that while there are some involved in racing who do abandon or kill dogs that are no longer useful, that this represents a small segment of racing and that the problem is greatly exaggerated considering large numbers of animals abandoned by people who simply no longer want to keep dogs as pets.

According to the Independent, the audience for greyhound racing has all but disappeared and greyhound races today are primarily events intended for television broadcast for betting purposes.

Opponents of greyhound racing in the UK are also venting their anger in Ireland, which the Independent reports is where 80 percent of the dogs that end up in the races are bred. According to The Independent,

The industry has recently been targeted by the Animal Liberation Front. In November, activists vandalized part of Shelbourne Park racing track. A statement released afterwards said the action was “in protest at the slaughter of thousands of greyhounds at the hands of Bord na gCon (the Irish Greyhound Board) . . . Actions against greyhound tracks will continue until racing is ended.” It singed off with the ALF slogan “Till all are free.” The previous month, Kerry Foods’ billboards at Limerick Greyhound Stadium were damaged. Claiming responsibility, ALF said: “Message to the greyhound industry in Ireland: we will be back until Kerry Foods stop sponsoring animal abuse.”


A Dog’s Life Ain’t What It Used to Be. Jonathan Brown, The Independent (London), January 17, 2005.

PETA Protests Use of Leg Traps in Rapid City, South Dakota

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a press conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, in January to protest the use of leg traps in national parks.

PETA chose Rapid City because in the summer of 2004 a number of dogs were injured by leg traps in Badlands National Park. The traps were set to capture coyotes.

Badlands National Park Superintendent William Supernaugh says that his agency regrets that dogs were caught in the traps, but that the traps are necessary to hold down the coyote population.

The Rapid City Journal reported that,

Supernaugh said those injuries mainly were the result of the Park Service’s failure to check traps quickly. He blamed shift change among personnel and an unclear policy on how often those traps should be checked. Those procedures have been tightened, Supernaugh said.

But he said banning all uses of leg traps in the Badlands would cripple the park’s program to monitor the range and health of coyotes. He said that program was crucial to the successful reintroduction of swift foxes and black-footed ferrets to the Badlands.

Coyotes prey on swift foxes, so park personnel introduced them to areas outside known coyote territories, which are determined through radio collars attached to trapped animals.

Canine distemper, Supernaugh said, could wipe out the fragile ferret population.

PETA disagrees, with Stephanie Boyles saying in a press release on the issue,

These traps are so barbaric that they have been banned in 88 countries. It is shameful that in the 21st century, a federal agency would use such primitive, cruel devices. We urge [Interior] Secretary Norton to call for a ban.


Group Calls News Conference to Reveal Shocking Photos of Dogs Caught in Leghold Traps in Badlands National Park. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 24, 2005.

PETA protests Badlands trapping. Bill Harlan, Rapid City Journal, January 26, 2005.