According to a review from the BBC’s documentary programme, BBC Wales Investigates, people are buying dogs with their ears cropped simply because they think they look better and it’s the social media craze. While this operation, banned in England, is carried out illegally, according to the people who carried it out, the dogs’ false passports are obtained from Turkey.
According to the new “fashion”, a part of the auricle of the dogs is cut or “cropped” only for aesthetic reasons.
The value of dogs whose ears are cut off, ie mutilated, increases by $2,000.
The reporters, who contacted dog breeders anonymously for BBC Wales Investigates, replied: “Ear clipping creates ‘striking’ appearance for American bully breed.”
Although ear cropping is illegal in the UK under animal welfare law, breeders provide fake pet passports to show the operation was carried out overseas.
Dogs with cropped ears have trouble communicating
Paula Boyden, of UK animal rights group Dogs Trust, said there was “no reason” to crop ears and it could lead to health and behavioral problems in dogs.
He noted that some animals can develop infections after surgery or that he doesn’t like people touching their ears:
“We’ve also found that dogs have behavioral issues when cut because they communicate with their ears, they can have trouble communicating with their owners or other dogs.”
BBC Wales Investigates has tracked down several breeders who posted images of dogs with cropped ears online as part of the documentary.
“It’s a shame it’s illegal because cropping the ears makes them look stunning,” says Moheiz Adam, one of the breeders.
Adam, who offered to sell a puppy with an ear cut off for $17,000 to the reporter who concealed his identity, says he will also receive a pet passport and a microchip.
If anyone asks about the dog, they say, “I bought him from an Irishman, he’s from Europe, that’s all I know.”
The man also raises a dog during a video call, showing his ear, and saying “all will be fine”.
Re-wanted under the guise of the scheme, Adam says he “wanted to have the dogs’ ears removed” but “never did it” because it was illegal.
“We buy passports and chips from Turkey”
Daniella Dos Santos, former president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), says she is “devastated” by the BBC revelations:
“Cut off the ears is an illegal mutilation and only because it has to do with the appearance of dogs. Everything for status. There is no health benefit for dogs”.
Joshua Harty, another dog breeder from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, told the anonymous reporter that he could also organize a press break, by getting himself a passport and a microchip for foreign pets:
“It normally costs around $660 to get the ears cut off, the passport and the chip. My vet takes them from Turkey”.
Harty describes taking dogs to shows in Ireland and Spain, having no problem crossing borders with these fake passports.
Former BVA chairman Dos Santos said anything Harty was proposing was completely illegal. He recalls that this means “considering these animals not as living beings, but as commodities and money-making machines” and stresses that the legal void authorizing the import of dogs must be filled.
After contacting Harty for comment, the BBC was unable to get answers to its questions.
Social Media Phenomena Increase Demand
Vanessa Waddon of dog rescue charity Hope looks after puppies rescued by Cardiff Council after being mutilated by an illegal breeder.
Waddon fears that social media influencers such as football player Marcus Rashford, singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jack Fincham of the popular English show Love Island are increasing the demand for short-eared dogs to share:
“Whenever celebrities post something online, people think, ‘this dog looks good, maybe I’ll get one like that’.
“Even though celebrities have been importing dogs legally, there are people in the UK who are breeding them illegally to meet the demand.”
Officials at Rashford, Pinnock and Fincham were also contacted for the documentary program, but no response was received.
The British government plans to restrict the importation of dogs with cropped ears and puppies under six months old.
A Welsh Government spokesperson says there is a five-year animal welfare plan to tackle illegal dog breeding, including new regulations for Wales, and is monitoring developments closely.
But Boyden says the law will only work if border guards check imported dogs:
“An import ban would be welcome, but a law is only good if it is enforced. There are currently no detailed sources that can be used to verify cropped ears or to determine their age.”
“You can have the best legislation, but it will never be fully effective if it’s not implemented,” says Waddon.