After reviewing the list of controversial pet surgeries conducted on domestic animals, one ought to consider whether or not these medically unnecessary surgeries are justified.
Surgeries such as ear cropping & docking, tail docking, seem to be merely cosmetic issues as demanded by breed standards. There are few if any health benefits from these surgeries, and almost no necessity whatsoever. They are simply done for aesthetic preference. Another difficulty about these kinds of surgeries is that often the animals are provided no kind of anesthetic for the procedure. This is seen most commonly in tail docking, which occurs when the animal is only a few days old. Wrapping/taping and clipping ears is painful for a dog for weeks on end after the surgery.
Most procedures are also experienced at a crucial developmental stage in a puppy’s life. Because they usually occur when a dog is between 8-12 weeks old, the pup is just beginning to build trust and confidence when the surgery occurs. This means that there can be psychological effects, resulting from the pain inflicted in these surgeries.
Cosmetic (or unnecessary) surgeries help perpetuate the concept that our pets are nothing more than accessories, and that their experience of pain is not as important as our preference about their looks. Does tail docking and ear cropping value the dog as an individual pet, or as one of the masses who must fit the cookie-cutter concept of what his breed should like? Many believe that this puts aesthetics and “show dog” priority above the actual well-being of the pet, by forcing him to experience unnecessary suffering in the procedures.
The convictions about pet cosmetic surgery are always divided. Unfortunately, reputable institutions such as the American Kennel Club have been inadvertent proponents of cosmetic pet surgeries, since they help determine the rigid standards of the breed. Many view this as wrong; for example, ear-cropping and tail-docking are illegal in the UK among many other European countries.
Fortunately, many veterinarians object to removing any “communicative” element of the pet’s body. For example, dogs use both their tails and the positioning of their ears to communicate with their masters. Impairing a dog’s natural ability to communicate is considered cruel by many vets, who refuse to perform such cosmetic operations, unless they must do so for the pet’s health.
That said, there indeed may be instances were certain surgeries could be advantageous to the dog, such as protecting his eyes from impaired vision (in cases where the skin sags down over his eyes) or decreasing the likelihood of bacteria growth/disease in ears, etc. However most cosmetic surgeries are due to vanity and needlessly subject the dog to discomfort at a human’s whim.
In conclusion, most cosmetic surgeries cause dogs to experience pain and trauma without a good reason, and should be weighed with proper consideration and care for the pet’s physical and emotional health.