My letter to my Representative, re: dog ear cutting

15 February 2018


The Honorable Vern Buchanan

United States House of Representatives

2104 Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Mr. Buchanan,

Dog Ear Cropping — Why Is It Still Legal?

I’m writing to you as my representative because I see this ultimately as a legal matter, which concerns you as a legislator. The moral case can be put easily enough: the surgical cutting of a dog’s ears for fashion (which is to say, for showing them in a show ring) harms the dog, causes it distress and discomfort, and has no medical justification whatsoever. I refer in particular to the cropping of Boxer dogs’ ears, which is done to American show dogs though not European ones, as in Europe this barbaric practice is banned. I don’t think we are behind the Europeans in many things, but in this we certainly are. No dog, in its vulnerable early puppyhood no less — when it ought to be playing and directing all its youthful powers to growing not healing — should have to undergo this ordeal. (I understand that cropping is typically done no later than about twelve weeks of age.)

The American Veterinary Medical Association agrees with me, yet this pointless and unkind mutilation still goes on in this country (any surgery not required for good health or the dog’s best interests is unkind). The American Kennel Club should alter its breed standards so that the very beautiful natural ears of the Boxer dog — or any dog — will be accepted in the ring, as they are in Europe. Instead, American dogs are made to retain an aggressive sharp-eared look as an echo of a crueler age. I wonder whether the A. K. C. would be so keen to uphold this standard if its members truly knew that the general public views it not only as cruel but also ridiculous: Boxers as pets and intimate companions are overwhelmingly these days allowed to keep their natural ears, unmolested. But I worry about the show dogs, who are not allowed to have the bodies they were born with (tail docking is another subject, or perhaps it is not). Today I am arguing that surgery on animals without medical purpose should be illegal in this country. At the very least, dog ear cropping should be outlawed. Then, the A. K. C. will have to bring its standard in line with the law and with the moral position that has already been adopted in other decent countries. European show dogs are happier throughout their lives, and as a bonus, they look so much better! I honestly don’t know who could argue against that, or what argument they could possibly have.

I know that you are extremely busy, so allow me briefly to state what my stake in this is: I am an American citizen concerned about animal welfare in general, but as a past and current Boxer dog owner (I have just got my 8-week-old puppy today — 15th February), I have once again been forced to confront this disturbing practice. I’ve written a playful book about dogs (How To Train Your Human: The Dog’s Guide) and have designed the official Boxer Beauty tartan, honoring the breed, which is registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. I had to say goodbye to my first dog, Chummy, who inspired the book and the tartan, this past New Year’s Eve, after nearly 11½ years of mutual devotion. No one could claim that I don’t have a deep personal and moral interest in the welfare of Boxers.

I do hope that this is not seen as “too small” an issue for the laws of our land to correct.

Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours very sincerely,