A couple from Essex, Rory Canny and Sophie Louise Snell, have both been disqualified from keeping dogs for their involvement in the cropping of their dogs’ ears.
The RSPCA launched an investigation after reports of the cropped ear dogs. A warrant was executed at a property in Clacton, where investigators found a number of dogs – several of whom had cropped ears.
No great effort was made to conceal the illegally cropped ears, as online research into BullylairUK kennels found a number of images on social media showing puppies who were being bred and then having their ears cropped.
“The couple originally told investigators that Bjorn came to them at four-months-old from Bulgaria before changing their story and admitting to breeding him”
In her witness statement, RSPCA inspector Caroline Richardson – who compiled a research report based on the Instagram images – said, “[An] image posted on 09/05/2020 shows an entire litter of puppies with whole ears, on BullylairUK Instagram page, stating they are four weeks old. Bjorn is then posted about in December 2020 with cropped ears. Canny and Snell both confirmed in interview this is the same dog and that they bred the dog.”
The couple originally told investigators that Bjorn came to them at four-months-old from Bulgaria before changing their story and admitting to breeding him, but claiming they sold him to a friend overseas, and only returned after the ‘friend’ had arranged the cropping.
However, online evidence suggests that Bjorn was with them all along, with no proof found that the dog traveled at any point. The fact importing cropped dogs from abroad is legal – although the practice is also illegal across the EU – provides a convenient smokescreen for illegal ear cropping in the UK, which Canny and Snell tried to use
The photos of more puppies – Tiger Lily, Saber Tooth, and Nylah – were also shared on social media showing two young pups with whole ears.
All dogs were either later confirmed or believed to have been cropped, with investigators finding some of the cropped dogs found at the property to have strikingly similar markings to those of the pups whose photos were shared on social media.
Ear cropping is illegal in England and Wales, under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Both Canny and Snell were disqualified from keeping dogs for five years. Canny was also given a 12-week prison sentence – suspended for 12 months – and Snell was given a curfew (9pm-6am) for six months.
“This is done purely for cosmetic purposes and sadly can lead to puppies being sold for much more money”
Both were ordered to pay £600 in costs each while Snell was ordered to pay a £90 victim surcharge and Canny a £122 victim surcharge. The couple told the court that they’d since rehomed all of the dogs.
Speaking after sentencing, inspector Richardson said, “Ear cropping is an horrific practice which has absolutely no benefits for the dogs and can cause them lifelong health, behavioural and social problems.
“This is done purely for cosmetic purposes and sadly can lead to puppies being sold for much more money – but 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.”