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Photo Contest Highlights the Beauty of Dogs with Natural Ears

The Humane Society of the United States

Tuesday, The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association announced its "Natural Dog-Eared Photo Contest" to promote the natural beauty and functionality of dogs with their natural, as opposed to cropped, ears.

"This photo contest is a wonderful opportunity for dog owners to showcase the beauty of their animal companions' natural ears," said Dr. Barbara Hodges, veterinary consultant for The HSVMA. "We hope it will encourage dog show competitors to leave their dog's ears intact and that one day the winner of the nation's top dog show will be a dog whose ears would traditionally be cropped but still has her natural ears. This is already a common occurrence in European countries, where ear cropping has been banned."

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to surgical procedures, such as ear cropping, performed on animals solely for the cosmetic preferences or convenience of the caregiver, and that provide no medical benefit to the animal.

Ear cropping involves amputating a portion of a dog's ears so that they stand erect instead of hanging naturally. It is typically performed on puppies just 9 to 12 weeks of age and is often done to meet standards for purebred organizations. The ears are taped to some form of a rack, usually metal or plastic, for weeks. The fact that the ideal cropping age coincides with a period of development in which traumatic experiences can have a negative effect on the dog's emotional well-being and future behavior, including permanent aversion to having their ears handled amplifies the detrimental effects of ear cropping.

The contest is open to dogs from breeds whose ears are traditionally cropped to conform to breed standards. Commonly cropped breeds include the American Staffordshire terrier, Beauceron, Boston terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Brussels griffon, Doberman pinscher, German pinscher, Great Dane, miniature pinscher, Manchester terrier and Schnauzer. Photos can be of purebreds or mixes, as long as, based on appearance, the primary breed is among those that qualify. Find out more about contest rules here.

First, second and third place prizes will be awarded to the photos that best illustrate the dogs' natural ears. Winners will receive gift certificates of $100, $50 and $25 to The Humane Society of the United States' Humane Domain, which carries a variety of dog toys, leashes, bed, apparel and other companion animal items. The HSVMA will publish winning photos on their Web site. Email photos to info@hsvma.org; the deadline for submittal is April 15.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at humanesociety.org.