A coalition of leading veterinary bodies and animal welfare charities across the UK has put its weight behind a new petition calling on the Government to close all the legal loopholes that allow the cruel and illegal practice of ear cropping to continue.
Ear cropping is a painful surgical procedure where the floppy part of a puppy’s ear is cut off, often without anaesthesia or pain relief. In many cases, the ear stump is then attached to a hard surface in a process known as splinting, to shape them upright whilst they are healing. Ear cropping is carried out purely for cosmetic reasons, without any health benefits for the animal.
Recent RSPCA statistics show that reports of ear cropping made to the charity doubled in the last year, with a 621% increase since 2015.
The Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition- whose members include the British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Small Animal Veterinary Association, British Veterinary Nursing Association, British Veterinary Zoological Society, RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, PDSA and Blue Cross- has joined up with Focus on Animal Law (FOAL) to keep the pressure on government to take action against ear cropping. While cropping dogs’ ears is against the law in the UK, current legal loopholes allow the trend of importing ear-cropped dogs into the UK to continue, and also act as a smokescreen for illegal cropping taking place within the UK.
A previous petition by Focus on Animal Law (FOAL), calling for a ban on importing dogs with cropped ears, received over 45,000 signatures. Following advocacy by FOAL and BVA, Defra responded to the petition to say that cropping was an “abhorrent” practice and that Brexit provided an opportunity to consider the ban of imports of dogs with cropped ears.
BVA President James Russell said:
“In recent years, vets and animal welfare charities in the UK have seen a dramatic increase in the number of dogs with cropped ears, marking a frightening trend towards the normalisation of a mutilation that is horrific, unnecessary, and rightfully illegal in this country.
“However, despite being illegal, unscrupulous breeders are using loopholes to import dogs with cropped ears from countries outside the UK where the procedure is still legal, or sending dogs bred in the UK overseas for the procedure.
“Even more worryingly, it has come to light that some people are carrying out this painful procedure illegally in the UK, using crude instruments or do-it-yourself ear cropping kits bought online, likely without any anaesthesia or pain relief.
“We’re asking Government to close all legal loopholes and end the trend in ear-cropped dogs for good, and so I’d urge all members of the public to sign this petition.”
FOAL co-director Jordan Shelley said:
“It was eight months ago that we started to campaign on the issue of ear cropping. The number of celebrities that were getting cropped dogs and companies using them in advertising was a real driver for us to launch the first petition, as we felt a real urgency in the need to stop the creeping normalisation of this abhorrent, illegal mutilation.
“In the UK the ability to import dogs with cropped ears is acting as a smokescreen for those that are cropping illegally within the UK, by muddying the waters for enforcement.
“Cropped dogs are often being sold for tens of thousands of pounds which unfortunately makes the international trade in mutilated dogs a huge income stream for some. It is time as a great animal loving nation that we say no to this trade and the increase in the “fashion” of cropped dog ownership, which is why we are asking government to look at the how we can stop this worrying trend.”
Along with the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition, a number of animal welfare organisations are also supporting the new ear cropping petition. They include Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, Hope Rescue, All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group and UK Centre For Animal Law (A-Law).
The petition can be viewed online at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/574305