Why vets are speaking out against a disturbing rise in number of dogs with cropped ears in the UK.
Ear cropping is essentially the amputation of part of a dogs ear to a desired length – ranging from tall pointy ears to almost no ear at all. The painful procedure is purely cosmetic and serves no benefit to the dog whatsoever. Puppies then endure weeks of splinting and agonising bandage changes to make the ears heal in a specific position. Cropping is carried out entirely for aesthetic reasons to make the dog look ‘tougher’, sustained by human vanity alone.
So it’s no surprise that legislation under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) makes ear cropping an illegal mutilation in the UK. And yet, over the past 5 years the RSPCA has recorded a dramatic 236% increase in the number of dogs coming into their rescue centres with cropped ears.
We are far from the dark days of dog fighting, where dogs would have their ears and tails cropped to prevent them from being grabbed and injured by other animals. Having no ears also stopped a dog from showing submission to its opponent, enhancing the appearance of aggression. In the modern day, this look has been normalised by film where breeds such as Dobermans and ‘Bully’ type dogs are depicted as ferocious hounds.
So why the sudden increase?
The pandemic triggered an incomprehensible increase in the demand for canine companions that was impossible to satisfy at a national level. As a result, 12,733 dogs were imported into the UK between June and August of 2020 – more than double that of the previous years and overlooking the countless more that are likely to have been brought in illegally.
Importing a dog is not cheap and demands deep pockets. Through the relentless power of social media, “influencers” and celebrities are able to showcase their expensive purchases from faraway lands, undeniably popularising and further normalising this barbaric practice. Consequently, this has made it easier for unscrupulous breeders to quietly shift illegally cropped dogs into the population, evading detection and skirting around enforcement.
A Doberman puppy was brought into the vets for its first vaccination around 8 weeks old with its ears tapped up in bandages. The owner defended the mutilation, claiming the puppy had been imported, despite the fact that puppies must be at least 15 weeks old to be brought into this country, meaning either:
(a) The pup has been illegally imported somewhere like the USA or certain parts of Europe where cropping is still permitted.
(b) The pup had its ears cut off in the UK.
This was the exact experience of a Lancashire vet who recently spoke out about the disturbing rise in “fashionable” cropping seen in the North of England in recent months. Both conclusions are blatantly unlawful, alongside countless associated animal welfare issues. And so, despite the ban, cropped dogs will continue to flood the streets so long as importation remains legal.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) have launched a campaign together with the Focus On Animal Law (FOAL) group to stop the rising number of ear-cropped dogs in the UK. We are urging the Government to step in and close the loopholes allowing this cycle of mutilation to continue.
Take action and share your support by signing the petition!