Veterinarians in Alberta want to ban surgeries they consider to be unnecessary, such as ear cropping, tail nicking, and declawing.

It’s one of two resolutions the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association passed on Sunday that will have “significant impact on animal welfare in Alberta,” the group said in a press release.

The second resolution would require veterinarians and veterinary technicians to report cases of animal abuse and neglect.

Dr. Darrell Dalton, registrar for the veterinary association, said these are important steps for ensuring the protection of animals in the province.

“It’s keeping us leaders of animal welfare,” Dalton said. “I’m grateful for our members who have demonstrated such a profound commitment to their role as guardians of animal welfare in our province by voting in favour of these resolutions.”

He estimated between 230 and 250 members voted at a meeting in Calgary on Sunday. 

He noted that the association voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of the resolutions, showing a high level of support for the changes.

Besides the controversial practise of declawing cats, other surgeries the group considers unnecessary include cosmetic dentistry, tattooing that is not for the purpose of registration and identification, tendonectomy and body piercing.

“The veterinary profession is a very science-based, evidence-based profession,” he said. “These procedures are ones that have no scientific evidence, no basis for doing them on a health basis or on an animal welfare basis.”

The veterinary group is asking the government of Alberta to make changes to the general regulations in the Veterinary Profession Act General Regulation to reflect these resolutions.

Dalton said he expects legislative and policy changes to take about six months.

Specific definitions

The resolutions will complement existing legislation in the Animal Protection Act, while going further by providing specific definitions of animal abuse and neglect. 

Abuse, according to the resolution, includes inappropriate infliction of physical injury, sexual abuse, mental abuse, poisoning, asphyxia, drowning, and evidence of organized dog fighting.

Neglect addresses a person’s failure to provide animals with basic necessities for extended periods, including food and water, medical attention when wounded or ill, providing adequate space, sanitary housing, ventilation and lighting and opportunity for exercise.

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