A major positive step towards improving animal welfare in Alberta occurred today on February 25. Alberta vets have successfully voted to ban declawing and other harmful animal surgeries within the province. After a vote took place yesterday on February 24, Alberta veterinarians have voted to not only ban surgeries such as declawing that are medically unnecessary and inhumane but they now also require all staff working with animals to report and take action against animal abuse and neglect.

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Members of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) voted Sunday and said that the two new resolutions will significantly improve animal welfare in Alberta, according to Global News. Almost 300 members voted and it passed by 98 percent. 

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Veterinarians and experts in the field say that cosmetic surgeries on animals are not medically helpful and instead, are downright inhumane and are not justified by science, unlike what some people argue. 

"They’re medically unnecessary, they cause unnecessary pain to the animal, and it’s inhumane,"  Dr. Darrell Dalton, registrar with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, told Global News

"People who want to maintain the status quo want to maintain tradition, and their arguments aren’t supported by science," he said, in regards to people who argue that animal cosmetic surgeries have scientific justifications. 

Under the new resolution from the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, the following surgical procedures on animals would be banned, according to Global News:

  • ear cropping
  • tail docking (removing portions of an animal’s tail)
  • tail nicking (cutting and resetting a tail ligament to heal in a raised position)
  • tail blocking (numbing or nicking tendons to paralyze the tail)
  • partial digit amputation (also called declawing or onychectomy, in which all or part of the distal phalanges, or end bones, of the animal’s toes are cut off)
  • tendonectomy (removing tendons from a cat’s toes to prevent it from extending the claws, done as an alternative to onychectomy)
  • front dewclaw removal
  • cosmetic dentistry
  • body piercing
  • tattooing that is not for the purpose of registration and identification
  • devocalization (removing tissue from the animal’s vocal cords to permanently reduce the volume of its vocalizations)

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The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association also voted on regulation regarding animal abuse. The association passed a resolution that requires vets and veterinary technologists to report any case of animal abuse. It also makes it mandatory for workers to take action to help animals in need and in distress.  

Dalton told Global News that previously, the Animal Protection Act regulations were not as concrete or specific. "We’ve now provided a clear definition that will be reflected within the general regulation," Dalton said.

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The new regulations will be effective throughout the province once the government officially updates the legislation with the new changes, according to Global News. The ABVMA has already sent out the new rules to the province. 

The inhumane surgical act of declawing is already banned in several other Canadian provinces, such as British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

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