By Joshua Robinson –
West Yorkshire is an ‘ear cropping’ hotspot in England, with 75 dogs in the county being reported to have had their ears cropped in a cruel and unnecessary procedure in the last three years, new figures from the RSPCA show.
The animal welfare charity is releasing the figures as part of its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign – to raise awareness about how to stop cruelty to animals for good – and to highlight the barbaric procedure which, in many cases, is carried out illegally in the UK solely for the aim of making the dog look “tough”.
But it doesn’t benefit the dog in any way – and can be detrimental to their health. The figures from the RSPCA show that, nationally, 1,191 reports of ear cropping have been made to the RSPCA since 2020.
West Yorkshire is number two – alongside London – in the top five ear cropping hotspots in England.
These figures are likely to be an underrepresentation of the actual number of dogs who are having their ears cropped as not all cases are reported to the RSPCA, as some people may not realise that this isn’t a dog’s natural ear shape or that it is an illegal procedure in this country.
Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “Ear cropping is a painful and unnecessary practice in which a dogs’ ears are removed or surgically altered and sadly many owners who do this do it because they think the look is glamorous or it makes their pet look tough.”
“But it can be detrimental, in the short and long term, to their health, behaviour and welfare – they do not benefit from having it done, and the way it is illegally carried out in the UK – by people who are not vet professionals – is highly likely to lead them to suffer.”
Despite it being illegal in the UK, some social media accounts promote the practice.
Samantha added: “We don’t want this cruel procedure – which is essentially dogs being mutilated for money – to be normalised. We are concerned that it is a growing fashion trend and it needs to be stopped.”
Ian Muttitt, chief inspector in the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit – which investigates the ear cropping of dogs – said the team has seen “horrific” DIY ear cropping kits at homes of people who carry out the cruel practice.
He said: “The idea of a person cutting off a dog’s ears with a pair of scissors and no pain relief or anaesthetic is stomach-churning – but that is exactly what they do. And it is even more sickening to know that they are only doing this because they think it will make the dog look ‘tough’ or they can sell the dog for more money.”
“We have seen dogs who have suffered because of the after effects of this cruel procedure. They are at a high risk of infection and discomfort – what’s trendy or fashionable about that? Absolutely nothing.”
Ian added: “It’s done purely for cosmetic purposes and sadly can lead to puppies being sold for much more money. We’d urge the public and anyone looking to buy a puppy to remember that this is an illegal procedure which has hugely negative impacts for the dogs themselves.”
“We are highlighting this horrific practice as part of our Cancel Out Cruelty campaign to help fund investigations into these awful cases whilst also campaigning to end ear-cropping for good.”
Whilst ear cropping is an illegal practice in the UK, it still happens. And shockingly, it isn’t illegal to import a dog with cropped ears into the country – making it harder to prove illegal cropping at home and leaving a loophole for owners to source dogs with cropped ears from abroad.
The UK Government had pledged to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears as part of its Kept Animals Bill – but sadly, the UK Government scrapped the bill in May, prompting the RSPCA to urge Ministers to find a viable alternative plan to ban it as soon as possible.
The RSPCA is urging people to write to their MP to ask for an urgent change in cracking down on imports of dogs with cropped ears.
The RSPCA has joined forces with Welsh charity Hope Rescue on the campaign which is aimed at reminding the public about the laws on cropped dogs and the welfare issues the procedure can cause pets.
To find out more about the campaign, visit the Mutilated For Money campaign page.
As the only charity in England and Wales investigating cruelty and rescuing animals, the RSPCA needs support to stay out on the frontline:
- £2 could help to provide a meal for a cat or dog in our care
- £6 could help pay to feed a dog for a day in our care
- £10 could help pay towards bandages for a cat or dog
- £15 could help pay for a cat or dog’s clinical exam
- £20 could help pay towards a bird catching kit
- £30 could help pay for a life jacket for an inspector
- £100 could help pay towards water rescue equipment
- £500 could kit out a 4×4 inspector van
The RSPCA’s frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty. To help support the RSPCA, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/cruelty