Ricky Gervais backs ban on import of cropped dogs as RSPCA reveals surge in illegal cropping

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petition against cropped ears cropped dog
Staffordshire bull terrier Rocky's owner was prosecuted for removing his ears with knife.

In August 2020 Jordan Shelley, Director at The Foal Group, launched a petition to outlaw the importation of cropped dogs in the UK. While the petition has now closed without reaching the 100,000 signatures necessary for a debate in Parliament, the response so far has been encouraging – and Jordan is already planning part two of his campaign.

While ear cropping is illegal in England and Wales under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – unless it is carried out for medical reasons – importing cropped dogs remains legal, and there are websites dedicated specifically to the purchase and import of dogs with cropped ears.

New figures released by the RSPCA show “a 621% increase in the number of reports of ear cropping and cropped ears made to the animal welfare charity in the last six years” – and sometimes these illegal mutilations have tragic consequences.

Comedian Ricky Gervais has backed the campaign to make the importation of cropped dogs in the UK illegal, saying, “It is horrific to think that something as barbaric as ear cropping still goes on. It causes these poor dogs so much suffering and it’s completely unnecessary. To think anyone would do this to an animal just for the sake of image is disgusting.”

From 2015 to 2020, the RSPCA had a total of 279 reports of the practice made to its emergency hotline. RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said, “We are seeing an upturn in the number of reports being made to our cruelty line about dogs with cropped ears and we’re extremely concerned that this trend is becoming increasingly normalised, glamorised and popular.

“We fear that images being shared on social media and used within advertising as well as high-profile sports stars and celebrities buying dogs with cropped ears is making the look more popular and may be influencing others to do the same.”

Jordan is also campaigning to end the use of dogs with cropped ears for advertising in the UK; as a matter of fact, he started his campaign after seeing a dog with cropped ears in an advert for a UK pet food company.

“We cannot stop cropped dogs from showing up on social media profiles from other countries, but we can and should at least stop their use in our advertising,” he told Dogs Today when he first launched his campaign.

“That look is the result of a procedure that is illegal for good reason, and cruelty should never be normalised.”

Commenting the RSPCA’s data, Jordan said, “The increase is stunning and quite worrying. I will shortly launch another petition to ban the import of cropped dogs in the UK, and I know the government is listening – we’re going in the right direction.

“We almost got halfway with the first petition, and it started from nothing; now we have a lot more awareness, support, and animal welfare organisations on board, so we have a head start. I am sure we will reach the signature target this time.

“I am very pleased with how this is going, but we have to keep the pressure up.”

Images by RSPCA

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