Inhumane Practices on Cats and Dogs: The “Banding” Method

WARNING – DISTRESSING IMAGES

We had a volunteer tell us about a cat wandering around an office in Parklands with something wrapped around his testicles, so she (the volunteer) wanted to borrow a cat trap to try and catch the cat and take it to the vet.

It took her a couple of days but she managed to trap the cat and take him to one of the vets that have a working relationship with TNR Trust. When the cat arrived, the rubber band or whatever they had used had fallen off or the cat had managed to remove it. There was so much tissue damage there, that they could not castrate him and they gave him the time to heal first.

High level of tissue damage due to banding, a painful and ineffective way of castrating

High level of tissue damage due to banding, a painful and ineffective way of castrating

Unfortunately the poor tomcat did not make it. The vets tried to save him but the cat had so much tissue damage he got septicaemia (Septicaemia is another term used to describe blood poisoning. It is an infection caused by large amounts of bacteria entering the bloodstream) and he also had such damage to genital area he had difficulty relieving himself.

BANDING: a cheap but ineffective and painful method to castrate male pets

Some think putting rubber bands on their male pets’ genitals is a cheap and effective way to castrate them. They apply the rubber bands and keep on making them tighter and tighter, until eventually the testicles fall off. This practice is called “banding”. Unfortunately, as we have just proven, this method of neutering brings with it a range of potential risks and dangers.

Infections

Dogs and cats often lick and scratch at the problem area, causing any number of complications, infections being at the top of that list. While these infections can be mild, sometimes they will develop into serious infections that could potentially take the life of your dog/cat. An infection can spread through the body quickly and if your dog/cat’s immune system is already compromised, then it can be extremely challenging and expensive to treat.

Due to infection caused by banding, this cat got septicaemia and was unable to relieve himself properly

Due to infection caused by banding, this cat got septicaemia and was unable to relieve himself properly

Serious Self-inflicted Injury

The band can be so uncomfortable and painful that your dog/cat may try just about anything to relieve the pain. Some animals will even try chewing off their own testicles to ease its suffering. This demonstrates the harm, pain and discomfort banding can cause, and that preventing complications associated with banding can be challenging.

Solution

Banding is usually used because it is cheap. If cost is your motivation for considering banding, it is still worth consulting your vet, who will be able to point you towards cost-effective options

The most popular alternative is surgical neutering. This involves surgically removing the testicles of your dog under anaesthetic, preventing any possibility of puppies being conceived in future. Surgical neutering can take place any time after your dog is 8 weeks old, but many vets wait until your dog has hit puberty at 6 months old. For guidance and advice on the best time, consult your local vet

BANDING: Inhumane Docking 

Banding is sometimes also seen on tails, when the owners are trying to dock the tail of a cat or dog.

What is tail docking?

Docking is the removal of portions of an animal’s tail. Typically this is done in certain breeds when a dog is three to five days old.  There is no medical benefit for doing so, and it’s only because people have come to expect a breed to look a certain way.  If done appropriately a vet will see the puppy, do a surgical scrub to disinfect the tail, and then use a sharp scalpel blade to cut through the skin and muscle and between the bones in the tail.  The procedure takes no more than a minute or two in skilled hands, and within a few minutes afterwards the puppy is acting normal.  

But there are older “country” or “redneck” ways to dock a tail.  The most common is to tie a rubber band tightly around the tail at the desired level and just leave it there.  The idea is that blood flow stops and the end of the tail past the band simply falls off.

Inhumane docking

Let’s evaluate this “rubber band” method for a bit.  First, it’s often done on older puppies who have thicker tails with more tissue.  The larger tail makes it more difficult to achieve the desired results.  But even so, stop and think for a minute.  Doing this is exactly the same as if you tied a rubber band around your pinkie finger and it eventually fell off.  How long would this take?  How much would it hurt?  How much risk of infection would there be?  No sensible, rational person would ever think that amputating a finger should be done with a rubber band.

The band constricts blood flow.  Without blood supply the tissues die.  With enough time they will deteriorate and fall off.  But the nerves aren’t initially damaged so it will hurt quite a bit.  It’s not natural for tissues to die in that amount, and restricted blood flow is not healthy.  You are not getting closure of the skin so a combination of dead/dying tissue and open wounds results in a high risk of infection.  If the tail is particularly thick you may not even get complete destruction of all tissue, leaving some muscle and the bone while the skin falls off.

Tail docking in Kenya

The “good” breeders and vets no longer dock dog tails in Kenya. Tail docking phased itself out about 3 or 4 years ago. The ethics committee for the KVB (Kenya Veterinary Board) and the KSCAVA (Kenya Small & Companion Animal Vets) vets all agree there is no need to dock tails any longer and agreed the practice is inhumane. Vets in Kenya will only dock if the animal has and actual problem with its tail, not for cosmetic purposes.

CONCLUSION

Banding is might be cheaper, but it is not effective to castrate male pets or to dock tails. 

  • Solution to castrate: surgical neutering
  • Solution to dock: leave the tail! Tail docking is painful and unnecessary. Furthermore, the tail is a major communication tool between dogs/cats. Removing the tail impairs a dog’/cat’s ability to communicate properly, leaving them highly vulnerable to being misunderstood by other members of their species and humans and placing them at a distinct social disadvantage. 

docking-1

REFERENCES

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