September 25, 2018 5:09 pm
Updated: September 25, 2018 7:34 pm

Debate over policy changes for canine cosmetic surgery continues in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia government plans to ban cosmetic surgeries in animals and the move has generated many varying opinions.

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There are many incoming changes to the Nova Scotia Animal Protection Act, and not everybody is happy about them.

The changes range from increasing measures around animal welfare inspections and enforcement to prohibiting animal fighting.

One change that’s generated a great deal of debate, however, is the province’s plan to ban cosmetic surgeries that alter an animal’s appearance, unless medically-approved by a veterinarian.

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The move has caused disappointment among some members of the purebred dog breeding community, who feel their rights are being violated.

“I do believe that breeders that do cropping and docking should have that choice,” Richard Paquette said, the vice-chairman of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).

Paquette says the CKC is a non-profit, membership-based organization that’s existed for over 130 years, and represents over 18,000 purebred dog breeders and enthusiasts across Canada.

In his opinion, there are many misconceptions about cosmetic surgeries in dogs.

“Cosmetic surgery in dog breeding is actually very low on the list of what dog breeders do. A lot of people think that all of these surgeries are purely cosmetic, they truly are not.  A lot of dogs have chronic ear problems and sometimes [the] removal of some flaps of skin will allow for better air circulation and fewer problems with all types of ear infection,” he said.

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In 2010, the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association banned vets from performing cosmetic surgeries on dogs for non-medical reasons.

Since then, animal rescue advocates say the practice has continued in non-medical settings.

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“Since then, breeders have been doing it themselves, at home, in their backyard or their kitchen. Or, taking their puppies out of province to do it, or importing dogs from out of province that already had it done,” Joan Sinden said.

In 2017, a Nova Scotia woman was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly docking puppies tails.

A judge acquitted her in 2018, due to a section of the former Animal Protection Act that stated; distress to an animal could be caused on the grounds of reasonable and acceptable practices of husbandry.

A section of the former Animal Protection Act that states distress to an animal may be caused if its based on the grounds of reasonable husbandry, has been removed.

Nova Scotia government

The new act has removed that section.

“We’re not saying that all cosmetic surgery is unnecessary. What we’re saying is that, most times, cosmetic surgeries are unnecessary, there’s not a medical need for it. Sometimes there is a need for it but, most times it’s not necessary and under the law now it’s illegal. Especially for people doing it at home, in their backyard or their kitchen or wherever they have been doing these acts of husbandry,” Sinden said.

Paquette says the CKC doesn’t “condone” any breeders performing cosmetic surgeries without a veterinarian.

“It would be unfortunate if the veterinarian’s ban on performing these surgeries have caused people to go underground. We do encourage all of our member breeders to use a veterinarian for these services and not to be performing them in an underground type fashion which would be completely inappropriate,” he said.

Paquette says all CKC breeders must follow a strict code of practice and ethics.

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