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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Puppy-Mill Bill Update

Hello all. I just received an update from the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Veterinary Political Action Committee (VPAC) concerning Ohio's "Puppy Mill"/Commercial Dog Breeding legislation and wanted to share it with you. This bill has been redrafted a countless number of times, it has morphed more often than a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. The most recent changes have, in my opinion, added stipulations that have me extremely concerned about the welfare of the animals involved.

The latest version of the bill includes language that would specifically allow breeders to tail dock (amputate or "cut off" tails) and remove dewclaws on their premises. It would, in essence, legalize the practice of a any layperson to perform surgical procedures on puppies. Granting permission to perform such procedures can open the floodgates to individuals requesting permission to perform various other such procedures and seriously compromise the proper care and well being of animals in Ohio.

I for one do not like to perform these "elective" procedures, however, I routinely do so to prevent these surgeries from being done incorrectly and causing pain, disfigurement and potentially death to many animals.

Tail docking involves amputation of the tail. It must be done at an appropriate length in order for it to be acceptable in the case of pure bred, show dog standards. If made too short, it can cause problems and disfigurement to the anus and prevent these puppies from defecating normally and can cause fecal incontinence. The incision must be made between 2 vertebrae of the tail to prevent the unnecessary pain of cutting through bone. This requires skill and precision to perform. In addition, there are several major blood vessels involved in the procedure and failure to control bleeding can result in anemia, weakness and even death in rare instances. Suturing/stitching of the incision is also necessary. Infection can be a big problem if sterile instruments are not used and proper surgical procedure is not followed. (Note: Clean does NOT equal sterile. Instruments can only be properly sterilized in an apparatus made to do just that, such as an autoclave.) Since the procedure is routinely done when puppies are between 1-5 days old, they are very small and can succumb to the effects of blood loss and infection very easily.

Dewclaw removal is also a surgery that requires amputation of an accessory toe on the rear and sometimes front paws. It also requires skill and sterile equipment/procedure to perform, as well as proper treatment for blood loss. Improperly performing the surgery can result in disfigurement and significant scarring.

Veterinarians receive 8+ years of training for a reason (4 years of undergraduate college and 4+ years of veterinary medical school/internship/residency). The specialized training and education we receive prepares us to perform medical and surgical procedures appropriately and safely for our furry patients. I, for one, would not want an unqualified individual performing surgery on me or my family member on a kitchen table, barn floor or in a dirty garage, and I certainly would not expect the same to be done to any living creature. But, that is exactly what can and likely WILL happen if the current version of the legislation passes.

I very strongly feel that there is a dire need for legislation to prevent the horror that "puppy mills" perpetuate. However, there are MANY things wrong with the current version of the bill. Please do your research and make yourself aware of the wording of the bill and its frequent changes and contact your local legislator to voice your opinions. Help the lawmakers to know that we are listening and we want what is best for the animals involved.


Dr. Mandi....OUT!


Cathy said...

I don't like the idea of taking my 3 day old puppies into a vet office and exposing them to who knows what, besides stressing out my bitch so much from having to have strangers handle her puppies or force her to be away from them while I take them to the vet's office.
I am willing to take the off-chance that I might have a bleeder rather than expose my hard work of studying pedigrees and dreaming of this litter to diseases.
BTW - I have been taking off dewclaws and docking tails for over 30 years of both dogs and lambs. I also have dehorned goats for years. This is normal work for a farm and lay person. Thank goodness my vet understands that he has better things to do with his time then waste it on these simple procedures that I can do.
Oh - I also have pulled all types of goats, lambs and calves without the vet's assistant which they appreciated as they did not have to get out of a warm bed to come and do something I could do.
Get a life and some security that there are things you have been trained for that you need to do.

Dr. Mandi said...

Well, Cathy, I'm sorry you feel that way. First off, amputation IS something I am trained to do and I have plenty of security in my skills, training and ability. Every veterinarian has procedures that they might not be comfortable doing and this may be the case with your vet.

I am a bit concerned that you are so worried about exposing your puppies to one of the cleanest and sterile places they can be and that is a veterinary hospital surgical room. However, you are not concerned about performing an amputation in your home or barn without using clean/sterile procedure. I would think that a responsible breeder would want what is best for her puppies. A "dirty" surgey by someone who may have experience but no formal training and the risk of a puppy bleeding to death or succumbing to infection is not responsible in my opinion.

I have plenty of things to do with my time just as your vet does. But, I know that what is best for the puppies is to have the procedure done properly and safely. I have performed hundreds of tail docks while in practice and I have always allowed the bitch come in with the puppies. I have yet to see a bitch or a pup have any problems/complications from having the procedures performed in a veterinay hospital, but I have seen many problems resulting from laypersons trying to perform surgeries at home. That goes for ear cropping too.

Simple or not, these puppies deserve proper care. Home surgery is not it. It reminds me of the hush hush abortions of long ago.

I for one do not mind being woken up from a warm bed for the well being of my patients and the peace of mind of my clients. That is why I do what I do. And by the way, I do have a life, my patients are a big part of it.

I Skin said...

I cannot believe that a vet would actually instill fear into people regarding tail docking and dewclaw removal. These procedures have been done for centuries without the assistance or HUGE BILL from a vet. Long time breeders are actually capable of doing a better job than most vets. Most vet schools don't even teach these procedures anymore and if you are experiencing huge loss of blood in either procedure, you obviously didn't learn proper procedure. There is little to no blood. I, for one, would not want an unqualified vet performing these surgeries on my animals. Many a dog has been ruined by vets who didn't know better. So sorry, Doc, but I'm truly appalled at your efforts to instill fear into people over such simple procedures.
Furthermore, Doc, MANY vets REFUSE to do these simple procedures and people are finding that they must drive hours or to another state to have them done. Do you have a solution for that?

October 24, 2009 1:30 AM

Cathy said...

You have no idea of my cleanliness for taking off dewclaws or puppy tails. I know how to sterilize my equipment and take care of it. I have been trained by my own vets to do this. I am very sterile for both of these procedures on my dogs and I am a responsible breeder.
The room in the vet hospital where the procedure is performed may be clean, but what about getting back to it and the animals just outside of it? Besides, here again, you make it sound as if it is major surgery! I know many vets that do it in the rooms where they see the animals. Are you going to tell me that they are not responsible either?
Further, when it comes to removing these off of an older puppy over 5 days old - then yes a vet is required as the veins and arteries are more developed and the possibility of needing stitches and/or bleeding is proportionately higher.

I can tell you have no idea about large animals. Do you have a waiting room for a calf and cow? Most large animal vets do these same procedures on the farm where I do them. Yes, there are people that bring some animals into the vet office but most the time the vet comes to his/her clients in the "dirty barn." There are not the major infections that happen as you surmise. Proper precautions are taken and the lay person knows how to do this or learns very quickly or they always call the vet. Most the time the vet is only there because there are vaccinations that require their presence for reporting to the state Ag departments, i.e., brucelosis vaccination. The majority of farmers do a lot of their own vet work to keep costs down and are very capable at it. I choose to do it myself because my own time is valuable and I can do it when it needs to be done instead of trying to figure out how to get a vet there to do it in a timely manner when they are needed. FURTHER, I do not know of a vet that goes out to a farm to take the tail off of a lamb. You would be laughed out of the office if you said you had to have the vet out to the farm every other day to take tails off the lambs during lambing season. If you are a shepherd, you learn how to do this.
Plus when it comes to AI - a lot of vets don't want to mess with it and consequently the lay person has to do it on the farm. Same goes with breeding dogs - most vets don't want to mess around with it.
When they do - it is because there is a need for verification of the implantation of specific sperm or the procedure is not vaginal but direct into the tubes requiring some surgical knowledge.
Get out into the country. Learn that people are smart and capable of doing these procedures in the correct manner.

I can tell you have definitely been influenced by the animal rights organizations that support so many of the vet colleges any more. The assumption from them being: The lay person is stupid and can't be trusted to do anything as this takes away from your income. And that is the real bottom line.

Dr. Mandi said...

Wow, I reallly had no idea that anyone would be so upset about a veterinarian trying to do what is right for patients. First, there is never a HUGE bill when I do these procedures. I do them at very low cost just so they can be done properly in a clean environment. This has NOTHING to do with money. Second, the blog post was not made to scare or instill fear in anyone. It was simply made to state the facts about these procedures and the potential consequences and complications when done improperly. I do know some vets that will not perform such procedures, but I know MANY who do and do it inexpensively so that it is done right. I have seen MANY MANY MANY of these procedures done incorrectly when done at home, then it is my job to fix the problem.

I am not a large animal/country vet, but I spent my years of veterinary school learning about ALL kinds of animals, even sheep and goats, cows, horses, etc. I know how things are done on the farm. That does not mean I choose to do them that way. Companion animal practice (the small animal business) is VERY different from large animal work. Where I pratice my clients expect me to do what is BEST for their pets and that is just what I do. In my opinion the best thing for these puppies is to have the tail and dewclaw amputations done at the clinic. I take every precaution to get them in and out as soon as possible and do all surgical work in the surgery room. I usually schedule the procedure during surgery time so that there is much less of a risk of other animals coming into contact with the pups. I cannot speak for every vet, but this is the way I do it to give the best care possible.

As far as animal rights organizations are concerned, I'm not sure where u are obtaining your information, but I don't know any veterinary schools that are "supported" by such organizations. PETA and HSUS are NOT organizations that I support and, frankly, I rarely pay attention to them. They never were a part of my veterinary college experience. In fact, they often picketed and protested at the veterinary school.

I'm not saying you are not doing the procedure well and I'm not saying you are "dirty" with your procedure, but you have to know that there are MANY "breeders" who are not being as careful as you may be about proper procedure and cleanliness. Most of these people are the ones running these "puppy mills". Allowing this legislation to pass opens the door to other procedures that are not so "simple" to be performed at anyone's whim. Have you ever seen ear cropping? This procedure is routinely done by some "breeders". It is a bloody mess and many dogs are left disfigured and anemic after it is done. So lets allow that too. And while we are at it, add declawing of cats, spaying and neutering to the list. How about leg amputation? Spelenectomy?

It's just a slippery slope. It opens the door for all kinds of problems. I am in this profession because I love animals. I could have a much more comfortable life being a human medical doctor, but I chose the animals. Please don't think that my comments are meant to slight anyone, they are just meant to make sure animals are taken care of properly and humanely. I wouldn't expect any less for my patients than I would for myself.

I Skin said...

Not the least bit upset over a vet trying to do the right thing, Doc. You are obviously unaware that the law you refer to will not open other doors. We fought to keep the right to dock/dew in the 3-5 day window. I'm aware of the groups you speak of, but just like we know which vets are good, i.e. "ear artists", repro, etc., vets should know there are those breeders that do not fit the general mold that has been created. We don't all belong in the same pot. As for cropping, I taught my vet the difference between cropping and the art of cropping. Done properly, it is not what people are led to believe.
I'll give you this, Doc. Knowing you don't support HSUS or the like, I would give you a shot if you were near me. I believe all decisions should be between the owner and their vet and not some politicians. You must have graduated long ago since HSuS has infiltrated most vet schools with their AR programs. More on that another time! RE: cost. A friend of mine called 13 vets to do 2 pups dew/dock. None would do it. The 14th vet wanted $100 each, plus $40 office visit each & to drop off pups & mother in the AM and pick up in the afternoon. I sent her to an experienced breeder who did them for $10 with no problems. We all know there are the good, the bad and the ugly in all professions. It's up to us to differentiate and try to explain that to the general animal lovers rather than to drop everybody in the same pot. Fair, Doc?
I've enjoyed this conversation. Hope we have more -
Privately or otherwise.

Dr. Mandi said...

Thanks I Skin, I appreciate the more than fair comments. Very true that there are good and bad in all professions, I have some horror stories of my own regarding some vets. True also that there is an art to ear cropping. It takes skill and practice. Pain controll is another issue when done "at home".

I certainly did not mean to lump all breeders in the same pot. But the issue at hand is puppy mills and such as it is, that is where my worry lies as far as tail docking and dewclaw removal is concerned. Knowing what we know about the treatment of animals at these places, I can only wonder how the procedures are done there.

I graduated in 2004, and there was never any mention of any of the animal rights organizations while I was in school. I have had much contact with the goings on there since graduation and all I have ever heard or seen of any of the groups was PETA picketing outside because of some protest concerning research going on at the college.

About cost, my clinic charges $20-$25 per pup, no exam fee, for tail dock and dewclaws. That includes suture if required for some of the larger pups. Also includes looking over each pup for congenital abnormalities like a cleft palate for example. If the bitch is present I also give her a once over to make sure she is ok as well. I know that some vets overcharge because they do not want to do these procedures. Especially the tails because it is considered "elective". If I had my way tail docking and ear cropping would not be done at all...but that's another can of worms altogether. I dunno, maybe there should be some kind of class or certification for breeders to perform the docks and dewclaws. That would probably put my mind more at ease. Just a thought.


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