Permitted veterinary procedures for animals include:

1) castration;
2) sterilization;
3) cropping;
4) clipping of hooves;
5) tattooing of animals and implantation of animals with a micro-chip identification system;
6) surgeries of dogs used in hunting;
7) clipping of corner teeth of piglets, shortening of the fangs of boars;
8) clipping the tails of piglets;
9) fitting bulls with nose-rings and fitting of boars kept in outdoor pens with nose rings;
10) trimming the beak of chicks.

The objective of cropping is to reduce injuries that animals can cause one another. Cropping must be undertaken on a calf before the calf turns two months old, the best time is when horns have just begun to emerge. Cropping should preferably be performed under local anesthesia using a cautery and the procedure must be carried out by a person trained therefor. Cropping with chemical substances is not recommended.

Removal of horns from adult animals should not be seen as a routine method but can, however, be used in individual cases to ensure the wellbeing of other animals.

Clipping of corner teeth of piglets, shortening of the fangs of boars, and clipping the tails is permitted only in the interest of the health and wellbeing of other pigs if they exhibit injuries on their ears, tails, or udder. For example, tail biting in piglets is caused by stress induced by poor feeding and keeping conditions. Resolving of the issue should start with improvements of the animals’ wellbeing.

To prevent pecking of feathers and cannibalism, the beak of chicks less than 10 days of age can be trimmed by a suitably trained person. Once again, attention should be paid to feeding and keeping conditions as this behavioral disorder is significantly less prevalent among poultry if wellbeing is ensured.

In castrating and sterilizing animals, the necessity thereof should be weighed and a method should be found which is most suited to the particular animal species in question. Rubber bands may not be used in castration as this causes animals long-term and lasting pain.

Prohibited veterinary procedures:

Surgeries and other veterinary procedures that alter the appearance of an animal and that are not performed for the purpose of medical treatment are prohibited.

This requirement foremost relates to cropping of the ears and docking of the tail of cats and dogs – only a few years ago this was a permitted procedure in Estonia as pertaining to certain animal species. As from January 1, 2001, cropping of the ears and docking of the tail of cats and dogs is prohibited in Estonia. A person performing such procedures is punished by a fine.

The ear cropping and tail docking of dogs and cats is allowed only in the event of medical indications.
Tail docking is permitted only in piglets if the herd exhibits signs of cannibalism. This procedure is not permitted in other animals.

Slaughter, emergency slaughter, and killing of animals

From the perspective of ethics and morality, animal slaughter has been an exceedingly controversial issue throughout the times. The general rule states that in slaying an animal, a method for slaughter and killing that causes the animal the least possible amount of physical and mental suffering must be chosen. For an information brochure on animal welfare in slaughterhouses click here.

An exception here is the killing of an animal where an attack by the animal endangers human life or health and the attack cannot be prevented or repelled in any other manner. The killing of a protected animal is regulated by the Republic of Estonia Nature Conservation Act. An animal that is in a helpless state as a result of an accident or emergency may be killed where survival would cause long-time suffering to the animal or where the animal cannot be granted species-specific life or where the re-introduction of the animal to its natural habitat proves to be impossible. Emergency slaughter constitutes the slaughter of a farm animal out of mercy or so as to prevent economic damage if treatment or keeping alive of such an animal would cause the farm animal lasting suffering.

Pursuant to the Animal Protection Act, permitted killing of animals includes:

1) slaughter or killing of a farm animal;
2) killing of day-old chicks and embryos in hatchery waste;
3) emergency slaughter of a farm animal;
4) killing of an animal in a helpless state;
5) slaughter of an animal for religious purposes;
6) animal euthanasia;
7) killing of caught fish;
8) hunting of game;
9) extermination of noxious insects and rodents;
10) diagnostic slaughter of animals and killing animals in order to control the spreading of an infectious animal disease as prescribed by the Republic of Estonia Infectious Animal Disease Control Act;
11) killing of an animal for self-protection.

The killing of an animal in the presence of a minor is prohibited, except:

1) extermination of noxious insects and rodents;
2) fishing;
3) killing of an animal in a helpless state;
4) killing relating to a study assignment in vocational education in the presence and at the liability of a supervisor.