Rocky's owner was prosecuted for removing ears with a knife

The RSPCA has backed a petition by dog trainer and welfare campaigner Jordan Shelley calling for a ban on the importation of dogs with cropped ears.

The RSPCA has seen a 236 per cent increase in the number of reports of ear cropping and cropped ears during the last five years. From 2015 to 2019, the charity has had 178 reports of the practice.

“It is illegal in England and Wales, under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to crop a dog’s ears,” the RSPCA says. “However, the practice is still legal in other parts of the world, such as the USA and some European countries, and there’s a fear that more and more dogs are being sent abroad for cropping and being purchased and imported from overseas.”

RSPCA added, “Staff who investigate complaints of the illegal practice fear that celebrity culture, images shared on social media – especially from abroad where the practice is unregulated – and an increase in bull breeds seen in advertising is normalising the look and making it more popular.”

Jordan launched the petition after seeing images of a dog with cropped ears used to advertise a UK dog food company. He is also seeking to prevent the use of cropped dogs in advertising, in order to avoid normalising a look which is the result of an illegal practice. 

Jordan Shelley

Jordan said, “There appears to be an alarming rise in dogs imported after undergoing the inhumane procedure of having their ears mutilated, fulfilling the desire for a certain ‘look’ and encouraging a procedure outlawed in England since 1899. It’s time to close this 121-year-old legal loophole.

“An import ban could be possible under trade rules. There are companies that specifically import dogs with cropped ears for UK owners, fuelling cruelty abroad. 

“It’s time to make imports illegal, raise awareness of the cruelty around cropped dogs and advise the public not to support those that use cropped dogs in advertising and on social media, as they’re inadvertently promoting this painful practice.”

The petition has received almost 13,000 signatures, and a response from the Government is now expected as per all petitions that receive over 10,000 signatures. However, in order to be considered for discussion in Parliament, the petition needs to be signed by at least 100,000 people by February 2021.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines added, “Ear cropping is a painful and unnecessary practice  in which a dogs’ ears are removed or surgically altered. It does not benefit the dog in any way and can actually be detrimental to their health, behaviour and welfare. 

“While we do have concerns that ear cropping is being carried out illegally, and underground, in this country, we suspect that the majority of dogs with cropped ears are being sent abroad to have the procedure done or are being bought and imported deliberately from countries with less stringent animal welfare laws and regulations than here.”

She added, “Dogs should never be mutilated for cosmetic purposes and, while this practice has been illegal in this country for a long, long time, we’d like to see more regulation to ensure that it’s no longer possible to get a cropped dog in England and Wales, unless rescuing through a reputable organisation.”

The petition can be found here

Anyone who is concerned that someone might be cropping dogs’ ears themselves, arranging for dogs’ ears to be cropped in the UK or sending their dogs abroad to have the procedure done should report it to the RSPCA by calling 0300 1234 999.

Images by RSPCA


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