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  4. RSPCA Policy A9 Surgical modification of companion animals

RSPCA Policy A9 Surgical modification of companion animals

9.1Surgical alterations of companion animals (e.g. amputation of the tail, a claw, removal of a scent gland) should only be carried out if therapeutic and necessary for the welfare and health of the companion animal concerned (e.g. due to trauma, neoplasia) or when justified to reduce health and welfare risks to the individual and/or control populations (e.g. sterilisation). Justified surgical alterations must be undertaken by a registered veterinarian under appropriate anaesthesia and with appropriate after-care.
9.2The RSPCA is opposed to the following non-therapeutic surgical modifications10 of companion animals which are unnecessary and can be detrimental to the welfare of the animal concerned:

  • tail docking
  • ear-cropping
  • declawing, including routine removal of dewclaws
  • de-scenting11
  • dubbing12
  • pinioning13
  • de-crowing14
  • venemoid surgery15.
9.3Debarking of dogs to prevent excessive barking should not be undertaken unless all other reasonable options have been attempted, and the animal’s health and welfare have been assessed by a veterinary behaviour specialist who approves debarking as the only alternative to euthanasia and in the best interests of the dog. Debarking should only be performed by a veterinary specialist surgeon. Owners of debarked dogs should carry a veterinary certificate explaining the justification for the procedure.
9.4If removal of spurs16 from roosters is required to prevent injury to other chickens, animals, and people, this should only be performed by a registered veterinarian with appropriate anaesthesia and after-care.

(adopted 08/04/2024)

[10] Note: Some of these non-therapeutic surgical modifications are illegal in some species/jurisdictions.

[11] De-scenting (sometimes referred to as de-musking) is a surgical procedure in which a ferret’s scent glands are removed in order to eliminate their natural odour.

[12] Dubbing is a surgical procedure in which the comb and wattles of poultry are removed.

[13] Pinioning is the surgical removal of part of a bird’s wing to prevent flight.

[14] De-crowing is the surgical modification of a rooster’s larynx to try and minimise crowing.

[15] Venemoid surgery is a surgical procedure on a venomous reptile to prevent or inhibit production of venom.

[16] A rooster’s spurs are bony protrusions on the inside of their legs which covered with keratin ending in a sharp point. The rooster uses the spurs in defence and fighting.

Also Read

Updated on April 26, 2024

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

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