The transformation of an illegally cropped dog

Cropped dog Riga made a full recovery and is looking for a new home

Riga, a bull-type dog, was only a puppy when his owners had his ears cropped in an illegal procedure, and then failed to seek veterinary care as he suffered from his injuries.

After being seized from a property in the Greater Manchester area in April 2021, Riga was taken to a vet by the RSPCA. The vet said that the procedure “would have caused him pain and irritation for at least five days, possibly longer”.

While ear cropping is illegal in the UK, as well as across the EU, there have been cases of dog owners who had the procedure performed illegally or went as far as to perform it themselves, sometimes passing the mutilated dogs off as having been bought from abroad already cropped. Last year, the RSPCA’s emergency line received more than one report every single day about ear cropped dogs – with 391 incidents reported. From 2020 to 2022, 1,066 reports had been logged by the charity.

Riga before and after ear cropping

A ban on the import of cropped dogs, which would have closed the loophole, was expected as part of the Kept Animals Bill, which the Government recently dropped to the disappointment of animals welfare organisations and campaigners.

Fortunately, Riga had better luck than the Bill did. After receiving veterinary care, he was moved to the charity’s Felledge Animal Centre in County Durham last autumn, where he’s been receiving ongoing treatment and care ever since. Riga’s owner was jailed for 23 weeks and given a 15-year ban on keeping animals after admitting allowing Riga’s ears to be illegally cropped.

The RSPCA is highlighting Riga’s story as part of their Mutilated For Money campaign against ear cropping – but also to help find him a new home.

Staff at the centre say Riga has made great progress and is a happy and loving dog, despite the ordeal he’s been through. Luka Atkinson, deputy centre manager, said, “He’s a really friendly boy and seems to be completely unaffected by the trauma and suffering he endured at such an early age.

“Even though he’s missing large parts of both ears, it doesn’t impede him and he’s got quite an infectious zest for life. He’s excellent with other dogs too and has made friends with several canine companions since he’s been here.

“Riga now weighs nearly 30kg (66 pounds), so ideally we’re looking for a home with people who’ve had experience of medium to large size dogs before and are familiar with bully breeds. He could possibly live with another dog, subject to sensible introductions, and he would also be okay to live with secondary age children. We’d love to hear from anyone who might be interested in offering this wonderful boy a new home.”


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