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What Does Your Dog’s Tail Say to You?

Dog photo contest highlights natural tails

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association is seeking entries for its Tales of the Natural Tail Dog Photo Contest. Dog owners or foster care providers are encouraged to submit photo entries that showcase the natural beauty or communication value of their dog's natural — as opposed to docked — tail. Entries can be submitted online through July 31, 2010.

The Tales of the Natural Tail Dog Photo Contest is part of the HSVMA's campaign to educate the public about surgeries performed on dogs and cats for cosmetic and convenience reasons. Those surgeries include tail docking and ear cropping of dogs, cat declawing, and devocalization of both dogs and cats to eliminate their ability to "speak." These surgeries are typically performed for aesthetic reasons or to solve what a pet owner perceives as a problem, such as barking or scratching. However, they aren't medically necessary and, like all surgeries, they carry some risk. HSVMA promotes solving behavior issues through training and other available alternatives.

"A dog's tail can illustrate every emotion from happiness to fear," said Dr. Gary Block, DVM, an internal medicine specialist who co-owns a veterinary clinic in Rhode Island. "It's an integral communication tool and our focus is to respect that natural canine attribute."

A panel of HSVMA judges will select a first, second and third place winner based on how well the photo and the caption illustrate the beauty and function of the tail. Judges include artist Ron Burns, author and radio show host Tracie Hotchner, and Dr. Gary Block, who serves on the HSVMA Leadership Council.

The three winners of the contest will receive gift certificates for $100, $50 and $25, respectively, to The HSUS's online store, Humane Domain. The store features a variety of pet products and gifts for pet lovers. Winners will also be presented with dog-themed prize packs perfect for any canine guardian. Winners will be announced in August and winning photos will be posted on the HSVMA website.

A flyer promoting the contest is available for download to post in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, adoption venues, dog parks and other locations frequented by dogs and their caregivers.

For complete photo contest rules and to access the online form, go to hsvma.org.

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The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.