In September, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) issued an advisory that the non-therapeutic tail docking and cropping of ears of animals amount to mutilation, constitute cruelty to animals and is a punishable offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The order came in response to a petition by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
“The directive is binding on vets, breeders and citizens,” says Shakuntala Majumdar, governing body member of FIAPO and president of Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Thane. The tails of Boxers, Dobermans, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Rottweilers and other breeds are docked when they are only a few days’ old. “This is done for cosmetic reasons as people want their pets to participate in animal shows.”
Animal welfare organisation Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) has been discouraging pet lovers against tail docking, ear cropping and other forms of animal mutilations. Khurshid Bhathena, honorary secretary, BWC, Pune, says they welcome the directive. “In our Spring 2011 issue of Compassionate Friend (magazine of the organisation), we even asked readers to spread the word that mutilation of dogs was cruel and illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. We would like to add de-barking (surgical removing or reducing dogs’ vocal chord tissues), filing teeth and removing dewclaws (amputation of that extra toe, higher up on the side of the forepaw, used to facilitate gripping) to the list.”
The AWBI directive says SPCAs and animal organisations can work with police and animal welfare departments to ensure action against offenders.
“At dog shows, if there are two dogs one with a cropped ear is likely to have an edge,” says Neil Gajjar, secretary, Pune National Canine Club. However, he says the AWBI directive will be followed. “No one wants to break law. It might be tough to implement the directive initially, but since Europe and the US have also banned tail docking it can be abolished here, too.”
Dr Tulpule, a city veterinarian stopped this practice almost two years ago. “I realised that it was completely unnecessary. I have even convinced many clients to keep the tails of their Cocker Spaniels or Dobermans. These operations are performed for purely cosmetic reasons. Some breeders even do it with rubber bands and we get cases of dogs with maggot-infested wounds,” he says.