Quebec Will Ban All Pet Cosmetic Mutilations

The Quebec government plans to ban all non-essential cosmetic procedures on companion animals by this summer, including cat declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, and debarking.

The province is currently drafting this exciting legislation, which will make Quebec the first province in Canada to ban all cosmetic surgeries on pets—unless they’re deemed medically necessary.

This decision comes after a petition gathering nearly 22,000 signatures calling for an end to non-preventive and non-therapeutic surgeries on pets was tabled in the National Assembly in Quebec in February, 2022.

Cat declawing causes serious suffering to sensitive felines. The surgery doesn’t merely removing cats’ claws—it’s a digital amputation of cats’ toes. Experts say the human equivalent of cat declawing would be to slice fingers off at the last knuckle. Declawed kitties can experience a lifetime of back pain, lameness, and may be more prone to aggressive biting or avoiding using the litter box because of their deep discomfort.

Tail docking and ear cropping are often performed on dogs for cosmetic reasons, mostly to fit within so-called “breed standards” for dogs. Docking is usually performed when puppies are just a few days old, without any anesthetic. Unsurprisingly, this can cause dogs a significant amount of pain and suffering. Many experts believe that tail docking in particular can affect dogs’ ability to interact with one another, as tail wagging is often essential to communicating a dogs’ emotions.

Debarking, also known as devocalization, or bark softening, prevents dogs from being able to vocalize. This procedure involves cutting out dogs’ vocal cords to either lower the volume of their bark, or to eliminate the ability to bark altogether. This procedure is extremely painful and prevents dogs from expressing their natural behaviours. In some instances, this brutal surgery is performed on cats as well.

Dozens of countries and jurisdictions have banned cosmetic pet mutilations because of the inherent cruelty caused to companion animals. In Canada, vet associations in several provinces prohibit vets from performing most cosmetic surgeries, including in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association no longer supports cosmetic pet surgeries, and in 2018, Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province to pass a legal ban on cat declawing. Unfortunately, the provincial government and veterinary association in Ontario—Canada’s largest province—have yet to act.

While it’s encouraging to see vet associations take a stand against cosmetic pet mutilations, we need prohibitions on these practices to be enshrined into law to protect cats and dogs from these cruel mutilations for good. That’s why Animal Justice lawyers will keep pushing for a national ban on cruel an unnecessary cosmetic procedures on pets.

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