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To what extent is mutilation of pets for aesthetic or practical reasons unethical?

Tail docking, ear cropping, declawing, debarking, wing clipping, debeaking, dubbing and castration... what is your opinion on the matter? In many countries there is no restriction on animal mutilation. Should these practices be mostly banned, as in Europe? Or can they be considered ethical? Let us know!

  • Mar 4 2013: Only for population control and humans could benefit by that too.
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    Mar 4 2013: "Why do people feel the need to own animals as"pets?" might be a better question.
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      Mar 5 2013: To many people it is not a possession. It is a child to love.
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        Mar 5 2013: It is a projection of themselves into the pet. Most times, not always, its subjective and one-sided. Have you ever seen the "Dog Whispers"
        I'm reminded of what Turkle say about social robots.
        "We're developing robots, they call them sociable robots, that are specifically designed to be companions -- to the elderly, to our children, to us. Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for each other? During my research I worked in nursing homes, and I brought in these sociable robots that were designed to give the elderly the feeling that they were understood. And one day I came in and a woman who had lost a child was talking to a robot in the shape of a baby seal. It seemed to be looking in her eyes. It seemed to be following the conversation. It comforted her. And many people found this amazing.
        But that woman was trying to make sense of her life with a machine that had no experience of the arc of a human life. That robot put on a great show. And we're vulnerable. People experience pretend empathy as though it were the real thing."

        These are the new "pets" but they serve the same purpose in many cases.
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          Mar 5 2013: I don't think animals and robots are the same. A relationship of people with beloved animals is a relationship of living things.
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        Mar 5 2013: The relationship Turkle describes here is an anthropomorphic one, and this is exactly what humans do with pets, assign human traits onto them.
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          Mar 5 2013: Some people anthropomorphize their pets, some anthropomorphise their cars, some their roses. Some do none of these things.

          But one might also argue that it is positive for interspecies relationships to take place.
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        Mar 5 2013: The anthropomorphism of pets seem quite different, and indeed it is a misrepresentation that we project onto the pet, not one that they participate in.
        See Equine therapy for example.

        This in my mind forms a healthy kind of interspecies relationship, more of a neurologically reflexive one that is lacking in human relationship even.
  • Mar 9 2013: An argument can be made that tail docking may prevent injuries to tails in hunting dogs. When my dog was a puppy he wagged his tail so violently that he would cause it to bleed. He has grown out of it though.
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    Mar 5 2013: Ah well .. humans are monsters .. we re-shape our pets to mirror what we are.

    Where I live, the good-old labradore is balanced by a pit-bull terrier .. a kill-dog.

    I suppose if you live in a city .. you have a torture victim as a pet - because that's what you are too.

    I had a friend who was playing in his backyard when a pit-bull jumped the fence from next-door and tried to kill his kids.

    It took 3 blows with a spade to kill the thing, and all his kids got injured and he was covered in blood before he could get the deed done .. and he was a big strong humans person ..

    His day-gig was remedial massage and healign .. this event hurt that man deeply.

    I don't have pets. And i know what our "pets" do when they go wild. You don't want to know that story.

    (edit: Here's a thing I found-out:

    Don't have "pets" . have friends instead - no matter what species they are.)
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    Mar 4 2013: The only reasonable thing is spay.
  • Mar 4 2013: With the exception of spay and neutering which are done to control the population I have no use for people who mutilate their pets for aesthetic reasons.
    I once saw a dog (a pug) that was de-barked. It was going through the motions of barking but just not making any sound.
    That was just sad.
    And only because the owner was too stupid to train her dog.
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    Mar 4 2013: Are you including spaying and neutering animals?
    • Mar 4 2013: Yes, also known as castration. Do you have an opinion on the matter?
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        Mar 4 2013: I think it is fine to spay and neuter dogs and cats.

        In Luxembourg are you able to find loving homes for all the dogs and cats that appear in shelters or are abandoned?

        Here are the arguments that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests for spaying or neutering dogs and cats:
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        Mar 4 2013: Hi Manuel
        My understanding is that spaying and neutering differs from castration in the sense that castration refers to the removal of (the dog's) testicles (which of course would have the same outcome). I fully support neutering/spaying as any responsible person should. I haven't done enough research to know whether leaving a dog's testicles in tact would have any health benefits but I do know that "neuticles" are becoming quite common. Prosthetic dog testicles...
        To answer your question, I feel that altering an animal's body in any way should only be done for the sole purpose of benefitting the health of the animal. Never, ever for looks or human convenience. I remember when I was 16 years old my grandmother's dog had puppies. The lady who had asked to breed her dog with my grandmother's (that is another topic altogether...) came over soon after the precious little puppies were born. She didn't oooh or aaah over the tiny, perfect babies, she just went over and started PINCHING their little tails off with her bare hands. I was traumatized and screaming for her to stop. Then she acted like I was being dramatic and told me the pups couldn't even feel it. I was mortified and bewildered when I was told it was for aesthetic purposes. Humans can be so brainwashed into believing what they want to believe.
        I met a doberman puppy last year. He was the biggest sweetheart who would run to the fence and play with me through the chain link. Then one day he had bandages on both of his little ears. He didn't want to come to the fence to see me at all and was in obvious distress. When I called out to his owner she explained she had his ears "cropped" so he wouldn't look funny when he was older. I couldn't believe this is even legal. The confusing part was I knew she really loved him and cared about him.
        I definitely don't think this is ethical. I believe these are unconscionable acts of unnecessary cruelty.
        Thank you for asking such an important question.
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          Mar 4 2013: Lori, I totally agree with you. Only for their health's benefits, pets must be mutilated. We do not have right for doing it for other reasons. And I ask one quiestion: Would we like if our pets had the power to mutilate us because something of us would not like them?
        • Mar 4 2013: Hi Lori, thanks for your great input!
  • Mar 3 2013: The word mutilation presupposes a correct answer.
    • Mar 3 2013: A debate presupposes no correct answer. Nevertheless, I apologize for my subjective choice of vocabulary. Do you have an opinion on the matter?