Report on Animal Mutilations by the RCVS

The following report was prepared by the RCVS, endorsed and accepted by Council June 1986 / February 1987. It contains many examples of animal mutilations, the majority of which it accepts and justifies for "Economic" or "Practical" reasons, with the exception of tail docking of dogs. It runs to, in excess of 5000 words, mostly attempting to justify it's stance in some rather odd procedures.

Out of 5,000+ words, it just says "College's views already known" when explaining the tail docking of dogs. Hardly a scientific case for it's cessation.

As this document is rather lengthy, you may wish to jump to the following:

 

REPORT OF WORKING PARTY ESTABLISHED BY RCVS

COUNCIL TO CONSIDER THE MUTILATION OF ANIMALS

1. BACKGROUND

(i) The establishment of the Working Party resulted from the Royal College Council's involvement in the controversial issue of the docking of dogs' tails. Council recognised that this was a procedure which could be dealt with satisfactorily only by legislation, but appreciated also that it was unlikely that Parliamentary time would be found to deal with a single procedure. It seemed more reasonable to hope that Government would be prepared to make time available for a Bill seeking to ban or control a number of undesirable procedures if these could be identified and accordingly it would be wise to consider the field of animal mutilations as a whole.

(ii) The original Working Party was established by resolution of Council in November 1974 and subsequently a Report was produced, and agreed by Council in 1976 - with amendments made to it later that year. Further revisions were made In 1977 and 1978.

(iii) The Working Party was reconvened in 1980 and the original 1976 Report (as amended) was further reviewed to determine specifically whether:

(a) there had been any changes in veterinary opinion in relation to any procedures since the Report had been adopted in 1976;

(b) any procedures required to be re-categorised;

(c) any additional procedures should be included.

(iv) Certain amendments to the Report were agreed in 1980 (following the review) and no further action was taken on the report as a whole until 1984.

(v) While action on the Report as a whole was not being taken during this period, Council had decided to extract its recommendations relating to mutilations in Farm animals and forward these for consideration by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee later re-designated the Farm Animal Welfare Council - with a view to action being taken by way of regulations under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. This course of action proved successful and was reflected in the making of the Welfare of Livestock (Prohibited Operations) Regulations 1982.

(vi) The Working Party was reconvened in January 1984 since Council decided that the time had come to make a final review, and then take action, with particular reference to non-farm animal mutilations.

2. TERMS OF REFERENCE

The reconvened Working Party adopted the following fresh terms of reference:

"To consider animal mutilations in general with a view to pressing for the banning of a number of mutilations by statute or other appropriate means."

3. WHAT IS A MUTILATION?

The reconvened Working Party confirmed that, although the term ‘mutilation’ was an emotive one, carrying with it, in common usage, implications of maiming and disfigurement, there was no satisfactory alternative term which would suffice for its purposes. Accordingly it was agreed to continue to make reference to mutilations on the understanding that the term should be understood as covering all procedures, carried out with or without instruments which involve interference with the sensitive tissues or the bone structure of an animal, and are carried out for non - therapeutic reasons.

4. CONSIDERATIONS INVOLVED

The Working Party confirmed that procedures which were carried out solely for therapeutic purposes were normally acceptable. It was recognised, however, that a number of procedures could be carried out for therapeutic or non-therapeutic reasons in different circumstances and that the non-therapeutic reasons for the carrying out of any procedure could vary considerably. The purposes might include: identification of the animal; man’s convenience; the prevention of undesired breeding; protection from dangerous activities; avoidance of smell or nuisance; prevention of damage to one animal by another of the same species; and conformation to a fashion - sometimes with a view to animals being shown. The Working Party did not suggest that this list was exhaustive but felt that the various considerations could be grouped together under the following four general headings as proposed in the original report:

i. Therapeutic

ii. Economic

iii. Cosmetic

iv. Practical

 

It was appreciated that more than one consideration might apply to a particular procedure. It was agreed that the Working Party would not, in drawing up its recommendations, attempt to draft them so as to include animals kept in zoological collections or for experimental purposes, since the considerations and legislation applying to such animals would differ markedly from those relevant to domestic species in private ownership.

5. PROCEDURES CONSIDERED

A list of the procedures considered by the Working Party is set out in alphabetical order in Appendix A. It will be appreciated that, for the sake of completeness, several procedures were looked at although they are already covered by legislation. In each case the Working Party considered that the legislative provisions were satisfactory. The remaining procedures were assessed for acceptability and it was considered possible to categorise all the procedures considered under the following headings;

A: Procedures already satisfactorily covered by legislation and requiring no further action.

B: Procedures which are acceptable either -

(i) in all normal circumstances provided they are governed by a Code of Practice or other appropriate controls, or

(ii) when the reason for carrying out the procedure is, in the particular case concerned, primarily therapeutic; or

(iii) when they are carried out by a veterinary surgeon with full knowledge of all the circumstances relative to the animal involved and its environment.

C. Procedures which are unacceptable either

(i) when they are carried out for non-therapeutic reasons, whereas, if carried out for therapeutic purposes, they are acceptable, and fall into Category B(ii) above; or

(ii) being normally carried out for non-therapeutic reasons only and when those reasons are not considered adequate to justify their being carried out; or

(iii) are practices which Council of the Royal College deplores as being ineffective and/or lacking justification as methods of treatment and which should be discontinued.

In the second column of Appendix A are shown the considerations set out in paragraph 4 of this Report which are considered to apply to the procedure concerned and, in the third column, are set out the classification(s) in terms of this paragraph, which the Working Party would assign to each procedure.

6. ASSESSMENT RESULTS

An analysis of Appendix A shows that the various procedures listed would fall, in the judgement of the reconvened Working Party, into the categories set out below - and the reasons for the assessment in each case, are set our in Appendix B.

CATEGORY A: COVERED BY LEGLISLATION -NO FURTHER ACTION

  • Docking and nicking of horses' tails
  • In relation to farm livestock:

(i) Penis amputation and other penial operations

(ii) Freeze dagging of sheep

(iii) Short tail docking of sheep

(iv) Tongue amputation in calves

(v) Hot branding of cattle

(vi) Tail docking of cattle

(vii) De-voicing of cockerels

(viii) Castration of a male bird by method involving surgery

(ix) Any operation on a bird with the object or effect of impeding its flight (other than feather clipping)

(x) Fitting an appliance which has the object or effect of limiting vision to a bird by a method that involves the penetration or other mutilation of nasal septum

  1. Tail docking of a pig (except in certain circumstances)
  2. Removal of any part of the antlers of a deer before the velvet of the antlers is frayed and the greater part of it has been shed

(xiii) Tooth grinding in sheep

CATEGORY B: ACCEPTABLE PROCEDURES

(i) In all normal circumstances provided governed by a Code of Practice or other controls

Beak trimming (poultry)

Castration (companion animals)

Castration ( horses and farm animals)

Disbudding (cattle and goats)

Desnooding (turkeys)

Detoeing (domestic fowl and turkeys)

Dubbing (poultry and certain domestic fowl)

Dew-claws, removal (dogs)

Ear notching, clipping, tagging, punching

Ova transplantation by surgical methods

Freeze branding

Pinioning (birds other than poultry) (under 10 days old)

Ringing (cattle and pigs)

Spaying (companion animals)

Supernumerary teat removal (cattle)

Tattooing (all species)

Teeth cutting (pigs)

Tusk trimming (boars)

vasectomy (all species)

(ii) When carried out for therapeutic reasons only

Anal sacs, removal

Claws, removal

Docking of tails (dogs)

Docking of tails (of other species, not covered by legislation)

Spaying (cattle and pigs)

Tail nicking (dogs)

Teat removal (cattle)

Teeth cutting/removal (dogs and monkeys)

Teeth clipping/removal (sheep)

(iii) Acceptable procedures when carried out by a veterinary surgeon with knowledge of all the circumstances relative to the animal and its environment

Ear tipping (feral cats)

De-horning (adult cattle, sheep and goats)

Laparoscopy

Pinioning (birds other than poultry) (over 10 days old)

CATEGORY C : UNACCEPTABLE PROCEDURES

(i) When carried out for non-therapeutic reasons whereas if carried out for therapeutic purposes they are acceptable and fall under Category B(ii) above

All those procedures referred to in Category B(ii) above

(ii) Being normally carried out for non-therapeutic reasons only and when those reasons are not considered adequate to justify their being carried out

Branding, corrosive chemical

Branding, hot (note: legislation covering farm livestock)

Cropping of ears

Devoicing (birds, dogs, horses, mules) (note: legislation covering cockerels)

Dewinging (note: legislation covering farm livestock)

Drilling of tortoise shells

Ear implants (dogs)

Mules-type operations (sheep) i.e. removal of folds of skin from around the vulva and tail

Venom ducts, ligation of

Venom apparatus, removal of

(iii) Practices which Council deplores as being ineffective and/or lacking justification as methods of treatment and which should be discontinued

Application of corrosive acids to the skin

Firing (horses)

Teeth cutting (sheep): so extensive as to leave the pulp cavity exposed, but not falling within the definition of grinding in Category A, above.

7. ACTION

The original Working Party proposed that those procedures listed in Categories B (iii) and C, which related to agricultural animals should be the subject of discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture with a view to appropriate steps being taken to exercise control through Codes of Practice (where this is not already the case) or to consider the possibility of banning them by Regulation, as appropriate, under the provisions of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968.

Following the making of the Welfare of Livestock (Prohibited Operations) Regulations 1982 (see paragraph 1(v) above,) the reconvened Working Party noted that certain procedures were now formally prohibited and the necessary amendments were made to the Categories to reflect the current position.

In relation to the procedures which relate to non-agricultural animals, the Working Party considered that it would be necessary to consider the possibilities and practicalities of a Private Member's Bill - unless the Government could be persuaded to accept it's responsibility to legislate. Government sponsored legislation was considered to be preferable.

The Working Party suggested that certain initial consultations should take place, and, assuming a significant measure of agreement with the recommendations, Government should then be approached with a view to obtaining support for the drafting of legislation in relation to the report's recommendations.

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APPENDIX A

PROCEDURE PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS PROPOSED CATEGORY

Anal sacs, removal of

Therapeutic

B(ii)

Practical

C(i)

Beak trimming (poultry)

Economic

B(i)

Branding, freeze

Economic/Practical

B(i)

Branding, hot (cattle)

Economic/Practical

A

Castration, (companion animals)

Therapeutic

B(i)

Practical

 

Castration, (horses & farm animals)

Economic

B(i)

Therapeutic

B(i)

Practical

B(i)

Castration, (male birds)

Practical/Economic

A

Claws, removal

Practical

C(i)

Therapeutic

B(ii)

Cropping of ear

Cosmetic

C(ii)

Dehorning (adult cattle and goats)

Practical

 
B(iii)

Therapeutic

B(iii)

Desnooding (turkeys)

Economic

B(i)

Detoeing (domestic fowl & turkeys)

Economic

B(i)

Devoicing (cockerels)

Practical

A

Devoicing (dogs, birds, horses, mules)

Practical

C(ii)

Dew-claws, removal (dogs)

Therapeutic

B(i)

Practical

 

Dewinging

Practical

A (poultry)

 

C(ii) (other birds)

Disbudding (cattle, goats)

Economic

B(i)

Practical

 

Docking (dogs)

Therapeutic

B(ii)

Cosmetic

C(i)

Docking (horses, pigs and cattle)

Therapeutic

B(ii)/C(i)

Other reason

A

Docking, (sheep)

Economic

A

Drilling, tortoise shells

practical

C(ii)

Dubbing (poultry & certain domestic fowl)

Economic

B(i)

Ear implants (dogs)

Cosmetic

C(ii)

Ear notching, clipping, tagging, punching

Economic

B(i)

Ear tipping (feral cats)

Practical

B (iii)

Firing (horses)

Allegedly therapeutic

C (iii)

Freeze dagging (sheep)

Therapeutic

A

Economic

 

Laparoscopy

Practical

B (iii)

Mules-type operations (sheep)

Practical

C(ii)

Ova Transplantation

Economic

B(i)

Penis amputation and other penial operations (livestock)

Therapeutic

A

Economic

 

Pinioning (poultry)

Economic

A

Pinioning (birds other than poultry)

   
  • under 10 days

Practical

B(i)

  • over 10 days

Practical

B(iii)

Ringing (cattle & pigs)

Economic/Practical

B(i)

Spaying (companion animals)

Therapeutic/Practical

B(i)

Spaying (cattle & pigs)

Therapeutic/Economic

B(ii)/C(i)

Tail nicking (dogs)

Cosmetic

B(ii)/C(i)

Tattooing (all species)

Economic/Practical

B(i)

Teat removal (supernumerary)

Therapeutic/Practical

 

B (i)

(cattle)

Economic

B(i)

  Cosmetic  

Teat removal (cattle)

Therapeutic/Practical

B(i)/C(i)

Teeth cutting (pigs)

Economic/Practical

B(i)

Teeth cutting/removal (dogs and monkeys)

Practical

B(ii)/C(i)

Therapeutic

 

Teeth grinding (sheep)

Economic

A

Teeth clipping/removal (sheep)

Economic/Therapeutic

B(ii)/C(i)

Teeth cutting (sheep) - exposing pulp cavity

 
Economic

C(iii)

Tongue amputation (calves)

Economic

A

Tusks trimming of, boars

Therapeutic

B(i)

Economic

 

Vasectomy (all species)

Economic

B(i)

Venom, ligation of

Venom apparatus, removal of

Practical

C(ii)

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Appendix B

Reasons for assignment of particular categories to individual procedure

Anal sacs, removal of

  • The discharge of anal sac contents as a result of fear or other stress is normal, and the removal of normally functioning sacs is not an acceptable procedure. Infection or other pathological conditions can result in recurring or chronic discharge or in fistula and sinus formation. Removal in such circumstances is an acceptable therapeutic measure. Anal sacs are sometimes removed from animals such as the skunk and fox in order to make them more acceptable as domestic animals. The Working Party does not accept that this is an ethical procedure and considers that anal sacs should not he removed for other than therapeutic reasons.

Beak trimming in poultry

  • Beak trimming (i.e. the removal of not more than 1/3 of the upper beak) is designed to prevent feather picking and cannibalism. The operation is performed in day old chicks by notching the beak with a hot iron or with a thermo cautery. The beaks of turkeys and pheasants are usually trimmed at from one to two weeks of age. Pheasant chicks are sometimes fitted with a ring bit to prevent complete closure of the beak. Such bits are removed when the birds are about six weeks old.

Branding , freeze

  • Causes minimal discomfort and no subsequent pain.

Branding, hot/corrosive chemical

  • Pain and discomfort operatively and post-operatively. Position in relation to hot branding of cattle now satisfactorily covered by legislation.

Castration, companion animals

  • The Working Party took the view that there are weighty social reasons for castrating small animals and that, since pain can be obviated by the use of general anaesthetic, it is an acceptable procedure.

Castration, farm animals and horses

  • The Working Party studied the reasons for castration and the methods used. Circumstances will dictate the choice of method, no one method being ideal in all situations. All methods are associated with a degree of pain and, from this point of view, no one method is markedly superior to others. Appropriate analgesia should be used. The Working Party is satisfied that existing regulations regarding subsidies do not oblige rearers to castrate stock where husbandry and marketing considerations would make the rearing of entire animals for meat acceptable. Anaesthesia of animals over certain age limits is a legal requirement and the Working Party accepts that these controls provide adequate protection for the animal.

Castration, male birds

  • Position covered by legislation.

Claws, removal of

  • This procedure is only acceptable where, in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon, injury to the animal is likely to occur during normal activity. It is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner. Thus the removal of dew claws in certain breeds of dog where they protrude from the limb and are likely to become caught and torn is justifiable and even advisable. On the other hand, the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight-bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable.

Application of corrosive acids to the skin

  • There is a procedure described in the American literature (‘Clinical Insight’: Jan.1987) which involves the topical application of concentrated nitric acid to large umbilical hernias in pigs. This should not be permitted in any animal in the UK.

Cropping of ears

  • This procedure is unacceptable in that it is carried out for reasons of fashion only, with no benefit to the dog.

Dehorning (adult, cattle, sheep, and goats)

  • Dehorning is justified to prevent damage being done by horned, to disbudded or polled cattle, the latter being unable to protect themselves - particularly under conditions of intensive or semi intensive husbandry. Similar considerations apply to goats. Since in both species potentially painful exposure of the frontal sinuses occurs as a result of the operation it should be carried out by a veterinarian and only if he considers it essential. (In the case of goats, legislation requires that dehorning be carried out by a veterinarian) Whenever possible livestock owners should be encouraged to have their animals disbudded when young. There are occasions when the horns. of cattle or goats become say, fractured from trauma and veterinary opinion may be that removal of the damaged horn is the only logical treatment.

Desnooding (turkeys)

  • Desnooding is done to prevent damage by frostbite or fighting. The working party agrees that Desnooding for the above purpose is acceptable, provided the Welfare Code recommendation regarding the age of operation is observed.

Detoeing (domestic fowl and turkeys)

  • This is done in the domestic fowl and in the turkey to avoid injury to the hens during mating. In the fowl, the inside toe is removed at the distal joint and in turkeys a similar amputation is made in the two medial toes. There is a Welfare Code provision to the effect that this should be done during the first seventy-two hours of life. The operation is designed to prevent injury to other birds and the working party has no objection to it provided the Welfare Code is complied with.

Devoicing (birds)

  • The procedure involves the carrying out of a surgical operation solely in order to suit the bird to the requirements of man and is therefore not acceptable. The position in relation to cockerels is now satisfactorily covered by legislation

Devoicing (horses/mules and dogs)

  • The total excision of the vocal cords can only be justified in relation to horses/mules under the compelling conditions of wartime.

Dew claws, removal of (dogs)

  • See comment under heading 'Claws, removal of'

Dewinging

  • An unacceptably severe procedure the purposes of which can be met by less drastic measures. So far as poultry are concerned, covered satisfactorily by legislation

Disbudding (cattle/ goats)

  • Disbudding of the young calf - which must be done under anaesthesia - is preferable to dehorning the adult and should be the preferred procedure. Disbudding should be by actual cautery or surgical excision of the horn bud. Caustic preparations should not be used because of the risk of excessive pain both to treated animals and to their pen mates. The same considerations apply to these operations in goats. A few goats, however, in breeds which are normally considered hornless, do develop horns and these are sometimes removed. This may be necessary if the goat is to join a group of hornless animals but, if the motivation is purely cosmetic, the Working Party would not approve of the operation.

Docking (dogs tails)

  • College's views already known.

Docking (horses, pigs and cattle)

  • Satisfactorily covered by legislation

Docking (sheep)

  • Reduces amount of wool liable to soiling, and thus reduces risk of blow-fly strike. It is in part covered by legislation. Some sheep are docked extremely short for cosmetic purposes. The position in relation to short-tail docking of sheep is now satisfactorily covered by legislation

Drilling (tortoise shells)

  • The shells of tortoises (and occasionally terrapins) are sometimes drilled so that the animals can be tethered. It is now recognised that such procedure is likely to be painful since it involves interference with sensitive tissues. It cannot therefore be advocated. Instead, other methods of restraining tortoises should be employed for example, the use of properly constructed enclosures or walled gardens

Dubbing (poultry and certain domestic fowl)

  • Certain breeds of domestic fowl develop very large combs and these are susceptible to damage from other birds or from frost. Dubbing is normally carried out at the day-old stage, the comb being removed with scissors. The Codes of Welfare recommend that, if necessary, dubbing should be done within the first seventy-two hours of life. The Working Party takes the view that dubbing for the reasons mentioned above, provided it is carried out in accordance with the Welfare Code provisions, is acceptable. The Working Party is concerned, however, at reports that on an experimental basis dubbing is done to avoid the over-development of the comb which occurs when birds are maintained in high environmental temperatures. Egg production is most economic when caged layers are kept at a temperature of 700F. The comb has a thermo-regulatory function and at these temperatures certain breeds develop excessively large combs. The enlarged combs so produced are certainly subject to injury, but the Working Party does not approve of surgical engineering designed to adapt unsuitable breeds to particular systems of husbandry and considers that more attention should be paid to the selection of breeds whose conformation gives rise to fewer problems.

Ear Implants (dogs)

  • These are designed for use in prick eared breeds of dogs where the auricular cartilage is weak or defective. Their use being for cosmetic purposes is, therefore, unacceptable.

Ear notching, clipping, tagging, punching

  • Ear notching and clipping procedures are only acceptable when they are essential and there is no alternative method. In relation to tagging, the Working Party considered that this would be an acceptable procedure, providing such was properly carried out using appropriate tags and equipment. So far as punching is concerned, this undoubtedly causes pain, and is accepted as a procedure only when it is carried out with proper equipment and there is no other alternative. At present, ear punching is carried out in order that subsidies can be paid to producers. If subsidies were paid on a dead-weight basis, the need for this procedure would be removed.

Ear tipping (feral cats)

  • The removal of the top 10mm of the left ear as a means of identifying a cat as neutered. Only cats known to be feral or ownerless should be ear tipped and the operation should be performed as part of a control scheme in which cats are placed back on a managed site where they will be fed. Ear tipping enables neutered feral cats to be identified at a distance i.e. without them being subjected to the stress of re-trapping, examination and even at times, unnecessary laparotomy The operation is carried out under anaesthesia, preferably at the time of castration or spaying. The cut should be straight to give a clear silhouette.

Firing (horses)

  • 'Preventive' firing has been condemned by RCVS Council as totally unjustifiable and prima facie grounds for prosecution under the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1912. Firing for tendon injuries, allegedly for therapeutic purposes, has been condemned by RCVS Council as being therapeutically ineffective and unjustifiable. Council has expressed the hope that, in the light of our better understanding of the pathology of tissue injury, this practice will be abandoned.

Freeze dagging (sheep)

  • If it can be shown that this procedure benefits the sheep it would be supported, but it is considered that much more research is required. The position is now satisfactorily covered by legislation.

Laparoscopy

  • Laparoscopy is carried out in a number of species -not only for the diagnosis and investigation of disease but also in order to observe and/or monitor the reproductive organs Insofar as the latter is concerned, the most commonly performed laparoscopic procedure is probably surgical sexing', which is carried out on sexually monomorphic birds, reptiles and fish. The operation involves general (sometimes local) anaesthesia and the insertion of a laparoscope into the body cavity. The surgical wound is usually sutured and a certain amount of post-operative care is generally essential. Surgical sexing can be justified on conservation and scientific grounds, since it permits rare animals to be bred in captivity. It may also be beneficial to the individual bird or reptile in that compatible animals may be kept together.
  • However, it must be borne in mind that (a) some species can already be sexed by non-invasive techniques, and (b) new methods of sexing are likely to be developed in the near future. Laparoscopy should, therefore, only be carried out when there are strong reasons for needing to know the sex of an animal and no other suitable methods are available

Mules-type operations (sheep)

  • The removal by any means of folds of skin from around the vulva and tail regions (Mules' or Manchester's operation) of conscious sheep (usually in an attempt to avoid the possibility of urine staining and fly strike) produces large wounds, pain and discomfort. Such crude surgical procedures cannot be justified and are unacceptable in the UK.

Ova transplantation

  • Although it is believed that transplantation by non surgical methods should become the normal procedure in the reasonably near future, transplantation by surgical means should be made the subject of a code of practice

Penis amputation and other penial operations. (livestock)

  • The position is now satisfactorily covered by legislation.

Pinioning (poultry)

  • Satisfactorily covered by legislation.

Pinioning (birds other than poultry)

  • Species kept for agricultural purposes - satisfactorily covered by legislation. In respect of others, it is felt that feather clipping properly carried out provides a perfectly good substitute in some cases. However, if the procedure is to be carried out then it should be performed by a veterinary surgeon with full knowledge of all the circumstances relative to the bird and its environment.

Ringing (cattle)

  • Bulls, heifers and cows are rung in order to provide additional control of potentially dangerous animals. The ring is inserted into the nasal septum and, if properly applied, appears to cause no inconvenience, although the act of insertion undoubtedly causes pain. The practice of ringing bulls reduces risks to attendants, and the Working Party supports it on practical grounds.

Ringing (pigs)

  • Pigs are rung in order to reduce the damage they would otherwise cause out-of-doors by rooting up the soil with their snouts. Ringing certainly interferes with the normal foraging behaviour of pigs kept outside, but the alternative in many cases would be unrelieved housing or yarding. Pain caused at ringing is transient and there does not appear to be any subsequent discomfort. The Working Party supports the selective practice of ringing pigs on practical and economic grounds

Spaying (companion animals)

  • The companion animal is kept under unnatural conditions1 protected from wastage through death from predators, disease and malnutrition. Restriction in numbers of each species is therefore necessary to prevent over population which would present dangers to man and to the species concerned. Sterilisation of the bitch prevents or reduces the incidence of several serious gynaecological conditions and also psychological problems associated with daily contact with the continuous presence and smell of the opposite sex of the species in heavily populated areas

Spaying (cattle/ pigs)

  • The Working Party disapproves of the spaying of cattle and pigs

Tail-nicking (dogs)

  • For cosmetic purposes, to deceive

Tattooing (all species)

  • The Working Party took the view that in the light of present knowledge, tattooing is an acceptable procedure as a means of identification of a wide range of animals. The discomfort associated with tattooing is slight provided the appropriate equipment is used.

Teat Removal

  • Teats in all species may have to be removed because of injury or disease. Healthy supernumerary teats are, however, routinely removed in young dairy calves. This is done partly for cosmetic reasons, but their removal is also supported by veterinary opinion as a health measure, since such misplaced teats may drain a portion of the udder and mastitis can develop in udder tissue associated with them. The motivation for removal may be partly cosmetic but the value of the procedure in avoiding disease situations in later life is such as to merit its continued support and advocacy by the veterinary profession.

Teeth cutting/ removal (dogs/ monkeys)

  • Dogs: Whilst the removal of diseased or damaged teeth may be a therapeutic necessity, the removal or cutting of teeth to prevent a dog causing damage by biting is unacceptable
  • Monkeys: This procedure is only acceptable if carried out by a veterinary surgeon in order to protect the animal itself - for example, if it is prone to damage itself badly by self mutilation or if it has a tooth or jaw infection. Teeth cutting/removal should not be carried out in order to protect the owner or his property. Under such circumstances the proper course of action is either to house the animal properly or to transfer it to other premises.

Teeth cutting (pigs)

  • The sharp temporary tusks and corner incisors of the young pig can damage the sow's teats and give rise to subsequent infection. The pain caused by suckling may also lead to rejection of the piglets by the dam. The Working Party looks on the cutting of those teeth as an acceptable procedure

Teeth cutting (sheep)

  • All practices involving the grinding of sheep’s' teeth, whether for therapeutic or management reasons are now subject to a legal ban. There is no exemption for veterinary procedures. Exposure of the pulp cavity causes unnecessary pain and has no therapeutic value which could not be achieved by less severe or rigorous procedures, and cannot, therefore, be justified. Bite correction procedures of any kind may cause inadvertent damage to mouth or tongue and/or expose the sensitive pulp cavity, which extends a variable length within the tooth. Extraction of teeth, or their clipping to shorten them or correct the 'bite' should be carried out by skilled persons and for therapeutic purposes only

Tongue amputation (calves)

  • So far as is known, this is not done in this country but it has been reported elsewhere as a means of preventing sucking problems. The Working Party condemns the practice without reservation. Now satisfactorily covered by legislation

Tusks, trimming of (boars)

  • Minimises the risk of injury to other in-contact animals, and personnel handling the boar.

Vasectomy (all species)

  • Teaser males are used to detect and induce oestrus, and, in some species to provoke ovulation. Vasectomy under adequate anaesthesia is acceptable. Other methods of rendering male animals infertile by removal of part of the testis and/or epididymis are unacceptable because of the comparatively long recovery period

Venom ducts, ligation of Venom apparatus,)

  • These procedures cannot be supported, since they are carried out to minimise danger to man on purely social grounds.