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State panel delays plan to allow breeders to crop tails and remove dewclaws from puppies

A Yorkie puppy that has had its tail docked and dewclaws removed
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
A Yorkie puppy that has had its tail docked and dewclaws removed

A rule proposed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to change regulations for dog breeders was put on hold by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) after animal welfare advocates raised questions about the measure.

The rule change would have allowed commercial or high-volume breeders to dock the tails of puppies. It also would have given those breeders the green light to remove dewclaws from puppies when they are between two and five days old.

The practices of tail docking and removing dewclaws is controversial but often done on certain breeds including Yorkies, Boxers, Rottweilers, Australian Shepards, Corgis, and Weimaraner.

Tail docking involves amputating all or part of a puppy's tail. Sometimes it is done for medical or preventive reasons. Other times, it is done for cosmetic reasons. The same is true for the removal of dewclaws, the digit on a dog's paw that grows higher on the leg than the rest. ODA proposed breeders could be allowed to do both procedures on their own, without the supervision of a veterinarian.

Vicki Deisner, executive director for Ohio Animal Advocates, said these procedures are serious and can be dangerous. If a dog breeder decided to crop a puppy's tail or remove their dewclaws, Deisner said a veterinarian should be providing oversight and pain medication.

“These can be very painful processes. Some dogs have died from these issues. And, certainly it needs to have veterinary oversight," Deisner said.

Deisner also took issue with another rule proposed by ODA that would have allowed commercial dog breeders to do their own background checks and then give them to the agency. That rule was also tabled by the legislative oversight panel. Deisner said her organization will work with the agriculture department on the rule changes.

A report in 2021 done by the Humane Society showed Ohio breeders were one of the worst offenders for inhumane treatment of animals. The report highlighted dogs that suffered from botched dental surgery, dogs being kept in crates with other dead or severely injured puppies, and dogs living in feces and out in the cold in the winter.

Deisner said Ohio ranked second in the nation in the number of puppy mills despite legislation that has been passed in recent years that was designed to improve the living conditions of dogs in kennels.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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