The Senate Agriculture Committee takes up an animal cruelty bill Tuesday that would ban non-veterinarians from performing certain surgical procedures on dogs.

The bill, HB 39, passed the state House unanimously in March.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D ., Berks), would make it illegal for untrained individuals to perform Cesarean sections, debarking, ear cropping and tail docking (when the dog is over five days old). The legislation is an outgrowth of evidence that some dog breeders performed these procedures with disfiguring and painful results.

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association has advocated for an amendment that would insert language to clarify that a vet may perform a tail docking between the period of 5 days of age and 12 weeks of age "if surgically removing the tail is medically indicated because of injury."

An amendment that would have allowed untrained individuals to perform ear cropping with a vet present has apparently been withdrawn. The amendment, promoted by the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, was not supported by the PVMA, which said only a vet is qualified to perform a surgical procedure such as an ear cropping.

If approved with the amendments and passed by the full Senate, the legislation would have to go back to the House for final approval.

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