California bans cow tail docking

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Tail docking of dairy cattle will be banned in California under a new law taking effect Jan. 1, 2010.

The bill, signed Oct. 11 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was supported by the California VMA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, California Cattlemen's Association, Humane Society of the United States, and California Farm Bureau.

The new law doesn't prohibit tail docking when the procedure will save the cow's life or relieve pain, however.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez authored the ban, which passed easily in the Assembly and then in the Senate this September. Schwarzenegger had originally mocked the bill, according to Florez, who was heartened that the governor reversed himself.

"The governor clearly got the message that Californians don't consider animal cruelty a laughing matter," Florez said.

The AVMA has opposed the routine tail docking of cattle since 2004. The American Association of Bovine Practitioners states it isn't aware of sufficient scientific evidence to support the procedure.

To learn more about the AVMA's animal welfare policies, click here.