Great Britain

Stars join campaign to end cruel ear cropping mutilation of ‘designer’ dogs

STARING lovingly into the eyes of his master, Eton, a Neapolitan mastiff-cross, seems an adorable dog.

But owner Anna White says her five-year-old pet is “behaviourally broken” from the butchering he suffered as a puppy.

Eton has had his ears cropped — a practice where a dog’s outer ears are removed, or have the tips or large parts cut off, now being done for cosmetic purposes.

This is often done with razor blades and no anaesthetic.

Anna, 55, believes Eton’s jumpy nature is down to him having had this done.

She said: “If you make any sudden movement near his head, Eton is terrified, goes as stiff as a statue and growls.”

The sick practice is increasing, with a 621 per cent rise in cases over the past six years and numbers more than doubling in the past 12 months, from 47 to 101.

Love Island’s Jack Fincham got in hot water recently for buying a cane corso, Elvis, with cropped ears.

But he posted on Instagram this week: “If it was my choice, that would never have happened.

“I do not condone, especially for aesthetic purposes, getting dogs’ ears cropped or their tails docked.

“Elvis is a rescue dog and it wasn’t my choice.”

Other celebrities, including comic Ricky Gervais, and Hits Radio Network host and ex-Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson, are urging people to sign a petition to stop cropping, which at the last count has 48,800 signatures.

Cropping is banned in England and Wales unless for medical reasons but is increasingly done on breeds such as mastiffs, cane corsos and bull terriers so they look good on social media.

Ricky, an animal rights activist, told The Sun: “It’s barbaric. It causes dogs so much suffering and is unnecessary.

“To think anyone would do this just for image is disgusting.

“I urge everyone to sign the petition so no more dogs go through this and have their health, behaviour or welfare affected.”

Gemma, president of Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, in Edenfield, Lancs, said: “Influencers posing on Instagram with dogs with cropped ears is irresponsible.

“There is nothing cool or trendy about it. Ear-cropping has to stop.”

It is banned in all countries that subscribe to the European Con-vention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

Yet importing cropped dogs to the UK remains legal.

GROWING TREND

The petition, #flopnotcrop, is backed by the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association.

Other supporters since its launch last month include comedian John Bishop, Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan and Victoria Stil-well, presenter of Sky TV canine-training show It’s Me Or The Dog.

The petition urges the Government to ban imports of cropped dogs and stop their use in advertising.

A Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman has said Brexit gives the UK “the opportunity to manage its rules applying to pet travel into the country, including considering the ban of imports of dogs with cropped ears”.

Cropping dates back thousands of years.

It was first done to working dogs, aged seven to 12 weeks, to prevent ear infections and other perceived health risks.

It has recently been carried out by owners breeding dogs for hunting and fighting. But worryingly, it has also become a cosmetic procedure.

In the US, Canada and Russia, it is often a breeding standard for dog shows.

But the RSPCA cites a “worrying, growing trend,” fuelled by the likes of Jack Fincham, Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Geordie Shore’s Aaron Chalmers posing with crop-eared dogs on social media.

Leigh-Anne’s boyfriend, Watford footballer Andre Gray, told fans online that neither of them agreed for their pet, Kyro, to have the op.

Both Leigh-Anne and Aaron bought their dogs from celebrity dog breeder Simon Davis, 34, who last year was banned from keeping animals for 15 years and fined £10,000 after being found guilty of cropping dogs’ ears using razor blades.

He was given an 18-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 160 hours’ unpaid work.

Tragically, a dog with ears cropped can sell for more money, so encouraging criminals.

Anna, an RSPCA animal centre manager from Potters Bar, Herts, added of Eton: “Twenty years ago we would only see fighting dogs cropped. Now it seems a fashion, an aesthetic thing done to much softer dogs like little bulldogs.

“Dogs aren’t status symbols you can play with and adapt like dolls.

“It’s tragic that a botched five-minute procedure carried out five years ago to make Eton seem tough has ruined his life.

“Nobody else would give him a home, because of what some cruel person did to him. The memory is still imprinted on his brain.”

MENTALLY SCARRED

Ears are a key communication tool for dogs, so he finds it hard to socialise.

Anna and her husband Tony, 57, a vet, have adopted 45 dogs over the years and say those with cropped ears display similar traits.

When done illegally, there is the added danger cropping is by unqualified breeders, using crude DIY kits bought online and often with little or no anaesthetic.

But prosecuting those people who crop illegally in the UK, or send pups abroad for cropping, is hard.

RSPCA dog expert Dr Sam Gaines said: “Cropping can add a huge premium to a dog’s sale price, so sellers simply tell prospective buyers the procedure was carried out in the US, Russia or a host of other countries where it’s not illegal.”

But there have been successful prosecutions. Last month, Lucy Thompson and James Voice, of Nuneaton, Warks, were banned from owning animals for life after admitting cropping three pups.

Dr Gaines says cropping is of “zero benefit” to a dog, and causes a “long, long list of potential negatives”.

She said: “As well as being extremely painful and traumatic, it often leaves a dog mentally scarred for life.

“Those first few weeks are a blueprint for how it will perceive humans — for its future happiness with a family.”

Hannah Hawkins, 28, is a behaviourist and dog welfare adviser at the RSPCA’s Ashley Heath Animal Centre in Ringwood, Dorset.

She has been working with three-year-old cane corso Jess since she was rescued from a nearby puppy farm in 2018.

Hannah said: “Aside from being malnourished and painfully weak, her ears had been terribly cropped, a sign it had been performed by someone with no veterinary background.

“It’s an irony these fighting dogs have ears cropped to make them more aggressive, when actually it makes them the opposite, lacking in self-confidence.”

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