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17th Aug 2023

Owners of dogs with cropped ears to face fines or prison with new legislation

Simon Kelly

Dog ear cropping

The new restrictions are set to be put in place by next month.

Owners and importers of dogs with cropped ears will face hefty fines or possible jail time with new legislation set to be introduced to target the inhumane practice.

Cropping relates to the practice of cutting off part or all of a dog’s ears, and sometimes bracing any remaining part of the ear to stick upwards. The practice is usually used on breeds such as Pit Bull, Doberman Pinschers, Schnauzer, Great Dane, and Boxers.

Dog ears cropped

A spokesperson for the ISPCA has said the charity welcomed the new restrictions:

“There is considerable cruelty and suffering associated with this unnecessary and barbaric practice. It is not just the pain that is inflicted during the procedure and its immediate aftermath.

“Dogs can experience life-long pain as a result of having their ears cut off. And the dogs are impacted in other, less obvious ways including their ability to communicate. Dogs use visual cues to communicate and express emotion, and removing part or all of their ears severely limits their ability to do so.”

Regulations to be signed next week by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will place restrictions on possessing or controlling a dog that had a procedure to crop their ears after the rules were put in place. They will come into force next month.

The new regulations will target those found operating or in control of vehicles, vessels or aircraft used for importing dogs with cropped ears.

Current dog ear cropping laws in Ireland are difficult to prosecute against.

The practice, which is prohibited in Ireland under section 16(b) of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, was historically believed to contribute to the health of the animal but is now done for purely aesthetic reasons.

While the practice is illegal, it’s been a particularly difficult crime to prosecute against. The new, stricter restrictions are set to make it easier to target.

“As the law stood until now it has been very difficult to prove offences in court” commented ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling, “While it was an offence to perform the cropping procedure or to cause another person to carry it out, it was not illegal to import such a dog, to possess such a dog, or to buy or sell such a dog”.

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