Here’s a veterinary treatment for horses which in concept and principle has similarities to cat declawing. Both these procedures shed light on the darky side of our relationship with animals.
We know what declawing is. It is the partial amputation of a cat’s toes on all forepaws to remove the claws. Cats use their claws for many reasons. All are a natural part of cat behavior but unfortunately a lot of people don’t like certain aspects of a cat’s natural behavior because it can cause damage to furniture.
Cribbing is part of the behavior of 4.4% of domestic horses. It is a behavioral abnormality arising out of the domestication of horses. It is like a human biting his/her fingernails. This is a sign of stress. It relieves stress.
Specifically cribbing is when a horse habitually bites down on a horizontal surface with his incisor teeth and at the same time sucks air. The horse may make a grunting or gulping sound. It wears down the incisor teeth and is linked to various conditions such as stomach ulcers, gas colic, ‘strangulation lesions’ and poor performance.
In order to stop cribbing some owners get veterinarians to operate on their horses. The surgery involves removing a lot of muscles or a modified version of it in which less muscle tissue is removed but to which is added a neurectomy; the surgical removal of all or part of a nerve.
This surgery has a good success rate. The horse physically can’t do cribbing. Although, of course, the emotional state of the horse that causes him/her to crib is still there. The horse does not have the means to express it.
I’d say that this was a very cruel procedure in the same was declawing is also cruel.
Wild horses do not engage in cribbing. In my opinion, the way to stop domestic horses doing it is to remove the stresses that cause it. That appears to be considered impossible or impractical by most horse owners.
Declawing and anti-cribbing surgery are similar in concept. They are both substantial surgical interventions carried out not for the welfare of the animal or in their interests but at the request of and for the convenience of the human owner.
Both operations are unecessary. Humans could find alternative ways of dealing with these animal behavior traits. They choose not to because the alternatives are less convenient than the cruel surgery.
Source: Veterinary News. DVM360