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Old 07-09-2012, 01:12 PM
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Default Skunk question - Why can't they have their glands removed?

Just curious - I work with animals and we've got a couple that had their glands removed in the past, I'm guessing before it was illegal. But why is it illegal now? I can't see how it's possible to keep a skunk with it's glands in tact. The ones at work even raise their tail sometimes like they want to spray and they're pretty friendly (can pick them up etc).
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:28 PM
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Skunks only really spray when they feel threatened. If you raise one properly and it has no fear of humans then it has no reason to spray!
Altering an animal to make life easier for ourselves is unnecessary and frankly inhumane. It's like de-clawing a cat - completely unnecessary and it takes away a completely natural part of the cat. Just like it's perfectly natural for a skunk to be able to spray. It is unfair to take that form of defence away just because we don't like the smell.
In short, it was made illegal because we as a country are against altering an animal surgically or otherwise purely for selfish reasons - same as docking, ear cropping, de-clawing, removing teeth, etc.
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Old 07-09-2012, 04:34 PM
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Descenting was banned as an unnecessary mutilation when the new animal welfare act came into force in 2007.

Well socialised skunks will only spray if scared or injured/ill. However, I have personal experience of vets refusing to treat a very sick skunk because he was spraying. If he had been descented, he would have been treated and made comfortable much more quickly.

Options:
Find a good vet who understands skunks and will tolerate and/or have contingencies to deal with spraying in practice.
Keep descenting banned but require vets to treat them regardless of spraying - vet bills would be huge from those practices who don't want to treat skunks.
Ban keeping of skunks - bit late for that now...
Allow descenting so that vets will treat sick skunks promptly.

It's a big ethical dilemma. Some will also put descenting in the same category as declawing and teeth pulling in cats and exotics in the USA, which it is, if people do it for their own convenience and not for the benefit of the animal.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:55 PM
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The tail 'flagging' you describe is completely normal no matter whether the skunk is intact. They will skid to a stop with tail raised and stomp the ground. Sometimes they will make a hissing/spitting noise. This is the warning ("back off or I'll bring out the big guns").
Mine does it to my VERY annoying cat when she wants to play, but she has never sprayed.

Personally, I don't believe any animal should be altered to make life easier for it's 'owners', which is why descenting is done in the first place (where legal to do so). However, the ethical dilemmas with vets not treating could be potentially fatal to the skunk. That said, if you have found a vet willing to treat your skunk (s) then the onus in such a situation is solely on the vet really. I know if I was a vet, I would never refuse to treat any animal! Unfortunately, it seems that does happen.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:11 PM
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It's such a weird grey area isn't it? It's like the keeper is caught between a rock and a very awkward hard place.

My skunk is descented, although she came to me as an unwanted animal and fed completely inappropriately by her former owners, and 2 yrs old with very little background info.....so I assume it was done way before the ban came into force.

I'm utterly in favour of keeping all animals intact, but until the attitude of silly squeamish vets is changed, I guess in this one instance there are convincing arguments for having the procedure done. It all boils down to this: which would cause the animal more harm...glands removed as youngsters when they're young and fit, or suffering when old and sick through lack of treatment?

It's certainly a thorny dilemma!
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:20 PM
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i totally agree it's cruel to do.
i keep ferrets and i know that they use to descent them in America, they also castrate them to young so they can suffer from adrenal problems.
if you want to keep these kind of animals you have to love them with it.
i am not against castrating as it's something that has to be done in males if you want to keep them in a group, and females will stay in season and develop other problems if not sorted, but they shouldn't be done when they are still babies.
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:13 PM
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hm I see. To be honest I'm quite glad the skunks we have in our mini zoo have been de-scented though, seeing as they wont get a lot of attention they would probably spray if they could - but they dont bite or anything so they're quite tame.
Was just curious really.
Bit stupid to be a vet then to refuse to treat something because it will spray you. It's like when I took a hamster to a vet 'ohhh will she bite?' DOES IT MATTER, it's a hamster she's not going to bite your arm off.
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:46 AM
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I wonder if it is actually cruel? Unnecessary, yes, except regarding the vet care aspect - quite sad that some vets don't want to risk getting sprayed but they practically never spray anyways so i wouldn't think it's cruel. And I would imagine they are removed at the same time that they're fixed (castrated) so that they aren't having to go under GA twice... But that's just a guess.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gryffindor View Post
I wonder if it is actually cruel? Unnecessary, yes, except regarding the vet care aspect - quite sad that some vets don't want to risk getting sprayed but they practically never spray anyways so i wouldn't think it's cruel. And I would imagine they are removed at the same time that they're fixed (castrated) so that they aren't having to go under GA twice... But that's just a guess.
Suppose whether or not it is cruel is in the eyes of the individual. IMO removing something that's totally natural to an animal's makeup and taking away their ability to do something that is natural to them, to do nothing more than convenience a person or satisfy their vanity, is cruel.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:09 AM
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My wifes constant talking gets on my nerves, but I'm not about to have her tongue removed, to make life easier for me, as that would be cruel.

Cruel doesn't need to mean painful, just going against its natural instincts/requirements.
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