State Laws Governing Elective Surgical Procedures

There are currently 19 states that regulate tail docking in some form. Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Washington prohibit the docking of a horse's tail. Connecticut, Michigan and South Carolina prohibit tail docking of a horse unless it is determined to be medically necessary by a licensed veterinarian.

Tail Docking

(see AVMA policy)

There are currently 19 states that regulate tail docking in some form.  Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Washington prohibit the docking of a horse’s tail.  Connecticut, Michigan and South Carolina prohibit tail docking of a horse unless it is determined to be medically necessary by a licensed veterinarian. In New Jersey, cattle tail docking is permitted only upon the determination by a veterinarian for individual animals.

 

In New Hampshire, permission must be granted by the state veterinarian before a licensed veterinarian may perform a tail docking procedure on a horse.  Illinois prohibits the tail docking of a horse unless it is proven to be a benefit to the horse and California prohibits the docking of horses’ and cows’ tails except in emergency situations. Rhode Island prohibits tail docking of cows unless done under certain circumstances for veterinary purposes.  

Ohio allows tail docking of livestock with some restrictions. However, as of January 1, 2018, tail docking can only be performed by a licensed veterinarian and if the procedure is determined to be medically necessary.

Maryland and Pennsylvania are the only states that have provisions restricting the tail docking of dogs.  Pennsylvania prohibits the docking of a dog’s tail that is over 5 days old.  The law does not prohibit a veterinarian from performing a tail docking procedure if the dog is at least 12 weeks old and the veterinarian is using anesthesia.  Between 5 days and 12 weeks of age, tail docking may only be performed if it is deemed medically necessary by a licensed veterinarian.  Maryland law provides that only veterinarians may perform the procedure using anesthesia and only when it is appropriate.

 Alaska and Louisiana allow tail docking to be performed as long as the procedure is done in a sanitary manner, minimizes the animal’s pain and distress, and is done in a timely manner.

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