Thank you to all those who contacted me about the ear cropping of dogs. I share concerns about the boom in the cropping of dogs’ ears.
The 621% increase in reports to the RSPCA of ear cropping since 2015 is shocking and horrifying. This is a trend growing over many years which causes pain and a risk of infection to dogs. It often also takes place alongside other forms of animal abuse and mistreatment.
The Government introduced the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill in June 2021, which would have allowed for regulations to restrict the import of dogs on welfare grounds, including the possibility of banning the import of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails. These practices are already illegal in the United Kingdom under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, the Government announced that it no longer plans to return the Kept Animals Bill to Parliament.
This is incredibly disappointing. I believe in honouring animal welfare promises and it is not right, in my view, to make promises for tougher laws and not follow them through. I will always push for the strongest animal welfare policies.
It is also essential to call out people who put images of cropped dogs on social media platforms for likes, shares and followers, and who ignore the pain that comes with that dog.
In August 2021, the Government launched a consultation on changes to rules for the import of dogs which closed on 16 October 2021. No feedback has yet been published.
More widely, I have long supported increasing sentences for acts of animal cruelty. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act is now law and that maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences have risen from a simply inadequate six months to five years. This is positive for animal welfare, and I believe that increasing sentences is vital to sending a strong message to perpetrators that animal abuse will not be tolerated in this country.