Columns: No Margins, No Limits, No Kidding!
CROPPED AND DOCKED ON INSIDE EDITION
In this in-depth TV interview I gave important accurate information on breed standards to the public, legislators and the various media outlets.
Jan 2016 | TheDogPress.com
CinDee Byer, Top Journalist Nominee
A picture they say is worth a thousand words. When interviewed by INSIDE EDITION all that was needed was a happy, healthy, cropped and docked dog to demonstrate why we do crop and dock. The producer from INSIDE EDITION, who was not a fan of cropping and docking, remained opened minded. When he saw the beautifully cropped and docked Doberman walk into the interview his eyes widened as he said, “He is a magnificent animal.” A picture I thought really is worth a thousand words.
Inside Edition TV show is known to create headlines that shock the public. This would be true for cropping and docking as well. However, except for the chosen headline to “CHOP OR NOT TO CHOP” the aired version was quite tame compared to Inside Edition standards.
Although only a few minutes of the cropping and docking interview aired on television, the actual process took nearly three months. The interview itself was nearly an hour and a half long. Conversations between me, the Inside Edition staff and producers were upbeat, interesting, fun and lively. During those exchanges the producer shared some of his personal thoughts, one of which concerned his trouble treating ear infections in his long-eared Springer Spaniel.
WHY CAN’T WE CROP LONG-EAR BREEDS TO PREVENT INFECTION?
I was asked, “If trimming ears prevents ear infections why do they not trim the infected ears of long eared dogs?” The truth is THEY CAN! If the owner and veterinarian agree it is beneficial to the dog and the vet is skilled in these procedures, ears can be trimmed or injured tails shortened to prevent future problems. Owners of purebred dogs such as Springer or Cocker Spaniels typically choose not to crop the historically long ears. Pet owners like the looks and breed people like the function. Changing the ear from what is described in the breed’s standard changes the dog and its historical purpose and proper function.
The producer also mentioned his Springer Spaniel was a pet and was not docked. He said he was not offended by the tail. It had beautiful plumes of fur. The tail did not bother his dog. He wanted to know “Why would I have him docked”?
In the United States pet owners can still choose to do what they want with their own pets. Cropping and docking are preventative procedures which are a part of the standards of specific breeds. The standard is the blueprint of each breed and is part of the rules of the sport of purebred dogs. Participating in the sport of dogs evaluates and rewards those specimens that come closest to the breed standard. The Breed Standard is about breed type, health and breed preservation.
Just as there are no laws dictating that one who plays backyard football must follow NFL rules; there are no laws dictating that all purebred dogs enter AKC shows. Those who do compete in AKC dog shows however are expected to follow the rules and have their dogs judged by the AKC breed standard.
WHY WE DOCK TAILS AND CROP EARS
If pictures are worth a hundred words, this lovely Weimaraner speaks volumes. She is an eager field dog and accepts her battle scars as proof of her prowess.
Docking tails in active or field breeds prevents breakage and injuries. Small to medium sized, “long coated” hunting breeds repeatedly beat their tails on brush which can injure them. They can even catch their tails on briars which can injure, break or dislocate the tail. One particularly severe case reported in England was of a game keeper’s Brittany who became paralyzed after such an incident.
Another reason that dogs like Spaniels are historically docked is hygiene. Stomach upset in the dog with a heavily coated tail results in a mess. Cleaning fecal matter from a dog’s fur on a hunting trip is a problem. Even a pet owner like the producer could relate to this loose stool dilemma.
Tail length, structure, carriage, thickness of skin, activity level and the job the breed was bred to do all played an important role in determining which breeds should be docked. If docked, these factors are also considered in determining proper length. Docking was made part of breed standards to prevent injury. It saved the active dog or those working in the field from going through painful and complicated adult amputations or euthanasia. It is not cosmetic.
EAR CROPPING MYTH EXPOSED
Like many pet owners the Inside Edition staff was under the impression that cropping and docking began with breeds of fighting dogs. This is untrue. Experts tell us, “Trimming ears and tails of animals began as a form of medicine.” As has been documented, Egyptians were trimming the infected ears of dogs over three thousand years ago and injured tails were removed to save dogs from gangrene and fatal infections. They were not fighting dogs; they were prized hunting dogs and companions.
The producer observed, “Natural ears on floppy eared dogs make them look friendly.” The truth is there is nothing natural about floppy ears. The only natural ear is an ear that stands erect. Long ears are an unexpected genetic mutation. A covered ear opening creates a moist environment for bacteria to flourish and grow. This is one reason why all wild canines (and cats) have erect ears.
There are many scientific reports supporting the fact that long ears in canines are a deformity. The “Domestication Syndrome” in Mammals: A Unified Explanation Based on Neural Crest Cell Behavior and Genetics. is a scientific report that concludes when the gene cells failed to reach the ears properly the ears became deformed or in pet terms “floppy”.
Whether a purebred dog’s standard calls for naturally erect ears, corrected erect ears or mutated long ears, the size, shape and carriage are all important to that breed’s historic purpose and function. The erect ear provides a cone shape that funnels sound more effectively and enhances directional hearing in guard breeds. The mutated ear causes the ear leather to grow long and hang over the ear opening.
These long ears are like blinkers on a race horse. Blinkers block rear and side views which encourages a horse to focus on racing ahead. Long ear flaps in dogs diminish hearing and distractions which encourages a dog to focus on the ground scent ahead. Great for a tracking dog but not in a guarding breed because changing the ear changes the way a dog works.
The concern most people have today is whether the dogs are harmed by having ear-cropping or tail-docking performed. These procedures not harmful to the dog. On the other hand, sterilization removes healthy organs from the dog’s body. This permanently changes the chemistry of a healthy dog. Sterilization is invasive and often comes with mild to serious side effects. When used as a convenience, spays and neutering can be very harmful. Sterilization is popular today as the “bread and butter surgery” in veterinary practice. In fact, elective sterilization is the number one surgery performed on dogs today for the owner’s convenience.
Ultimately the edited Inside Edition interview offered few of these facts. Even so I considered it a positive experience. The producer contacted me after the piece was aired. I thanked him for the opportunity and said he did a fine job. I mentioned it would have been nice if the Inside Edition story would have provided real education. I wished it could have better informed the public about the benefits of trimming ears and tails, and about the purpose of breed standards but then I realized… this is not the job of an entertainment show.
Owner education is is our responsibility. Upholding the Breed Standard is the responsibility of our national parent breed clubs and also that of the AKC.
Obviously we are both failing. The truth is that the enemy of the purebred dog today is rampant apathy, laziness, and today’s lack of education in the dog world. It is the absence of passion for preserving purpose and function. It is the belief that our leaders will save us yet it is the kennel club who refuses to promote us and the parent clubs that refuse to defend purebred dogs with focus and tradition! I have found it is not the public who is misled; it is us.
With the publishing of THE END OF PARENT BREED CLUB in TheDogPress I have received an overwhelming response to creating a think tank concerning the problem of maintaining breed standards and history. A picture really is worth a thousand words. If you as an individual would like to keep your breed part of the picture contact this writer.
Special thank you to Inside Edition Producers, Rick Krammer and Steve Bronstein.
Article Sources; Dr. Al W. Stinson DVM, Dr. Powel Anderson DVM, Dr. William Hope DVM, Dr.Robert LaBounty DVM, Captain AJ Haggerty (Snips Snails and Puppy Dog Tails) Adam S. Wilkins, Richard W. Wrangham and W. Tecumseh Fitch (The “Domestication Syndrome” in Mammals: A Unified Explanation Based on Neural Crest Cell Behavior and Genetics) Siobhán Kehoe PhD (Why dogs hear better than humans)
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