October 23, 2009
Victory for Farm Animals—California Bans Tail Docking of Cows
Attention, animal lovers! After a long fight, California’s dairy cows have emerged victorious! The ASPCA applauds California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made history by signing into law SB 135, a bill forbidding the cruel and unnecessary amputation of dairy cows’ tails. Since tail docking is already outlawed for horses in California, SB 135 will simply add the words "and cattle" to the law's language.
Tail docking is a common practice of the dairy industry, where up to two-thirds of a dairy cow’s tail is amputated without the use of painkiller or anesthesia. The docking is often performed by applying a constrictive rubber band to the tail, cutting off blood flow and allowing the tail to fall off. This often leads to neuromasdense masses of nerve endings associated with both chronic and acute pain. Infected wounds resulting from careless tail docking are also common.
“Cows naturally use their tails to swat off biting insects,” says Jill Buckley, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “Tail docking makes this simple movement impossibleleading to enormous suffering, especially during fly season.”
The bill, which will go into effect January 1, was introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez and supported by the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau. The bill was passed by the Senate 27-12, and the Assembly approved it by a vote of 58-15.
While the docking of cows’ tails is already banned in several European nations, including the U.K. and Netherlands, Californiathe U.S.’s largest dairy stateis the first state to ban the procedure. This act will protect the more than 1.8 million California cows farmed for their milk. The ASPCA is hoping this landmark legislation will encourage other large dairy states to follow suit.
Read more about the ASPCA's fight against cruelty to farm animals.