Please Oppose House Bill 1683
Please contact your representatives today to oppose this bill. It will be heard in the House Environment and Agricultural Committee tomorrow. HB 1683 declares that all cosmetic and convenience surgery on dogs be prohibited, unless performed for medical purposes. This represents the desire of a few activists to control how the rest of New Hampshire cares for their dogs. Owners, in consultation with their veterinarians, make choices in their animal husbandry practices to make that care easier and more practical. This represents a time-honored strategy of using the tools, knowledge, and experience of professionals to enhance the care we give our animals.
The list of prohibited practices includes tail docking, ear cropping, bark softening (debarking), dewclaw removal, and oddly enough for this bill that targets dogs, declawing. Each of these procedures has a practical purpose of enhancing the dog’s ability to do its job. Ironically, the most commonly performed convenience surgeries are spaying and neutering. Neither is a simple procedure, yet many pet owners are pressured to have their young puppies spayed/neutered, despite studies showing the devastating effects they can have on long term health (in Europe, spaying and neutering without a medical imperative to do so is not the norm, and it is considered mutilation in the Nordic countries).
Declawing is more often performed on cats than dogs. Its inclusion in a bill about dogs points out the lack of education on animal husbandry issues by the proponents of this bill. Declawing allows cats to stay in their homes for their entire lives. Senior citizens often cannot live with a cat with claws, because of the medical dangers that arise when they are scratched. People who have indoor cats exclusively often declaw their cats since they understand the cats don’t require them for climbing trees or self defense. The cat population as a whole suffers from higher euthanasia rates than dogs. Owners that are forced to relinquish their cats face an untenable choice, and one that is not necessary. Many people would not own cats at all if they could not declaw them. Declawing does not inhibit a cat’s innate desire to scratch; it makes it less damaging.
Licensed veterinarians must be allowed to do their jobs as expertly as possible in cooperation and partnership with their client, the animal owner. In the case of elective surgery of any kind, appropriate anesthesia, proper surgical technique, adequate pain relief, follow-up, and client education are the factors necessary to facilitate any ethical surgery, whether for disease or for cosmetic reasons.
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