Closed petition Stop the rising number of ear-cropped dogs in the UK

Leading veterinary and welfare bodies are concerned by the alarming rise in ear-cropped dogs in the UK. Ear cropping is illegal in the UK and an unnecessary, painful mutilation with no welfare benefit. The practice involves cutting off part of the ear flap, often without anaesthesia or pain relief.

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The RSPCA states a 621% increase in reports of ear cropping from 2015 to 2020. We believe a rise in UK celebs sharing images of their cropped dogs on social media is helping to fuel this. While illegal to crop in the UK, it’s not illegal to sell ear-cropped dogs, import them from abroad or take dogs abroad to be cropped. These loopholes act as a smokescreen for those illegally cropping in UK. We call on the Government to close these loopholes and end the trend in ear-cropped dogs for good.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 7 June 2021

Watch the petition 'Stop the rising number of ear-cropped dogs in the UK' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 9 March 2021

The Government welcomes further evidence on this abhorrent practice from the RSPCA. We will also explore options to tackle the import of mutilated dogs, consistent with World Trade Organisation rules.

Read the response in full

The practice of mutilating dogs’ ears is abhorrent and has rightly been banned in the UK for 15 years.

We already have some of the world’s highest animal welfare standards. Now we have left the EU we have the opportunity to consider options regarding the importation and commercial movements of dogs with cropped ears into Great Britain.

Under section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 Act it is an offence to carry out certain surgical procedures, unless they are specifically exempted under The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007 (the 2007 Regulations). The cropping of dogs’ ears is not exempted under the 2007 Regulations and consequently is prohibited in England. Similar legislation applies in Scotland and Wales.

The maximum penalty for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal or cropping a dog’s ears is 6 months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, the Government is committed to increasing the maximum custodial penalty for both of these offences from six months to five years. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, currently before Parliament, will continue to receive Government support as it completes its passage through Parliament.

Equally, the Government has powers to intervene on animal welfare grounds. Importers of animals must adhere to welfare standards as set out in Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and in domestic legislation, The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 (WATEO). This legislation aims to protect the health and welfare of animals during transportation and applies to dogs that are suffering injury as a result of non-exempted mutilations.

The Government will engage with stakeholders, including the RSPCA, to understand the extent to which dogs are having their ears cropped in breach of the law in this country. Now the Transition Period has ended, we also have the opportunity to consider options regarding this abhorrent practice for imported dogs, in line with World Trade Organisation rules and would welcome further evidence from stakeholders and the public on this issue. The Government is taking steps to ensure that the illegal importation of pets is stopped, and that pets brought into the UK through legal means receive a high standard of care.

The Government also continues to raise awareness regarding the improper selling of pets by deceitful sellers in the UK and abroad through our ‘Petfished’ campaign, which seeks to educate prospective pet buyers on common tricks and tactics used by deceitful sellers which may result in the purchase of a mistreated or unwell pet including those who have been subject to cropping. The campaign urges buyers to mitigate risks, for example by buying from trusted sellers such as those under the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder scheme, viewing puppies with their mothers and siblings, asking questions of the seller and following the Animal Welfare Foundation and RSPCA Puppy Contract to ensure that puppies are in good health when purchased.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Other parliamentary business

Government announces plans for new animal welfare laws

As part of the Queen's Speech on Tuesday 11th May, the Government announced that it plans to introduce new laws to protect and promote the highest standards of animal welfare in the UK.

The Government's proposals are set out in a new Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which was published this week. Its proposals focus on improving the welfare of pets and farmed animals, and protecting wild animals in the UK and animals exported or found outside the UK.

The Government intends to introduce three new Bills into Parliament to make these changes - the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, the Kept Animals Bill, and the Animals Abroad Bill. These Bills will be published in due course.

Read more about the Government's plans here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-lead-the-way-on-animal-welfare-through-flagship-new-action-plan

Read the Queen's Speech background briefing notes for more information on the Government's proposed Bills:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/queens-speech-2021-background-briefing-notes

What is the Queen's Speech?

The Queen's Speech is the speech that the Queen reads out in the House of Lords Chamber on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.

It's written by the Government and sets out the programme of Bills - new laws, and changes to existing laws - that the Government intends to put forward in this new Parliamentary session. A session of Parliament usually lasts around one year.

Once the Government puts forward a Bill in Parliament, Parliament then debates the Government's proposal and decides whether to adopt the changes to the law set out in the Bill.

MPs debate Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was debated at second reading on Monday 25 October. This is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of a bill.

You can watch the debate on the Parliament Live TV website:
https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/83f97daa-3aa7-4d29-9910-251d58e1feed?in=17:47:44

Read the transcript of the debate:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-10-25/debates/58F30AB3-1785-491F-B9ED-0DDD739F64D8/AnimalWelfare(KeptAnimals)Bill

Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

This bill aims to improve welfare standards and protect pets, livestock and wild animals.

It includes provisions to:
- Introduce new powers to tackle puppy smuggling
- Give new powers to police to protect livestock from out of control dogs
- Introduce regulations which prohibit the importation of animals that have been mutilated, such as ear-cropped dogs.

What happens next?

The bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee, where MPs will scrutinise the bill line by line. They are expected to report to the House by Thursday 18 November.

Read more about the bill and keep up to date with its progress: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2880

What is a second reading?

Second reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of a bill.

The Government minister, spokesperson or MP responsible for the bill opens the second reading debate. They usually begin by responding with their views on the bill. The debate then continues with other Opposition parties and backbench MPs giving their opinions.

At the end of the debate, the Commons decides whether the bill should be given its second reading, meaning it can proceed to the next stage. If there isn't consensus that a bill should proceed to its next stage, MPs will vote on this.

Find out more about how second readings work: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/commons/coms-commons-second-reading/

Further information

Find out how to get involved in the work of the UK Parliament: https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/