A Blackpool man had his dog’s ears mutilated in an illegal operation to make him look more intimidating – after telling a friend ‘a dog with big floppy ears... is not the kind of dog I want’.
Simon Broscombe, 35, had his six-month-old American pit bull cross’s floppy ears cut back to short points to give the pup a more ‘street cred’ look.
In the first case of its type in the UK, the RSPCA prosecuted Broscombe over the ear cropping at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
The court heard how Broscome, when confronted by RSPCA inspector Amy McIntosh at his Bela Grove home, grabbed his phone and tried to delete WhatsApp pictures from it.
However, the investigators traced messages from Broscombe, with one stating: “...with big floppy ears. He not the kind of dog I want.”
Pictures were also found of the champagne-coloured American bully, called Tyson, that showed his ears intact.
READ MORE: VIDEO: Woman given 10-year animal ban for 'most horrific' neglect RSPCA had ever seen still has pets on her property
RSPCA prosecutor Paul Ridehalgh said: “This dog is a cross between an American pit bull and American staffie.
“The investigators found pictures of Tyson with his ears intact and the defendant knew that ear cropping in the UK is illegal.
“Owners want cropped ears because it makes the animal more intimidating.
“These ears were mutilated and [Broscombe] would not say who did it which obstructed the RSPCA investigating.”
Broscombe paid £2,000 for Tyson, who was born in Holland. He described the dog as ‘his pride and joy’, and forked out £3,000 for a solid gold collar.
But he admitted causing unnecessary suffering to his pet by having his ears illegally cropped.
He also admitted permitting another person to carry out the prohibited procedure on Tyson, and failing to protect Tyson from pain and suffering.
Trevor Colebourne, defending,said: ”My client bought the dog via a breeder thinking it had had his ears cropped in Holland before being brought into the UK.
“He would not name the person who carried out the procedure as he had been given a threat to keep his mouth shut and not be a grass.”
Probation officer Amanda Kenyon said that Broscombe was devastated to have been split up from Tyson, who is being kept in kennels by the RSPCA.
But, sentencing Broscombe, judge Jane Goodwin told him: “Despite your claim to be a responsible animal lover you became involved in a seedy operation which was a deliberate attempt to cause suffering.
“You will not name the vet you claim was involved and this dog will have suffered for up to five days.”
Broscombe was banned from keeping or being involved in the keeping of any animal for seven years.
He was given a 12 week jail term, suspended for 18 months. He must do 200 hours of unpaid work for the community and must pay £715 in court costs.
In 2017, the RSPCA received a 157 per cent increase in reports of canines with cropped ears, with the number of going up from just 14 in 2015 to 36.
The charity’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) research and intelligence team saw a significant spike in the number of reports from members of the public in 2017 claiming that dogs are having their ears cropped in the UK illegally, that dogs are being sent abroad to have the procedure done, or that people are buying dogs from other countries in order to get around the laws.
An SOU officer, who works covertly so cannot be identified for operational reasons, said: “Dogs with cropped ears are coming to our attention for lots of reasons. Many are being advertised on social media while others are being spotted at breed shows.
“We believe ear cropping is being carried out illegally in this country. And we also believe that many breeders, sellers and buyers are sending dogs abroad to have their ears cropped before bringing them back home.
“This is going on within certain close-knit breed groups so we believe that many cases are slipping through the net unnoticed and that the issue is actually much bigger than we are aware.”
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines added: “Ear cropping is a process where ears are removed or surgically altered, usually for the purposes of appearance.
“We do not believe dogs should be mutilated for cosmetic purposes and we’d urge people not to buy a dog with cropped ears as - whether the process was carried out here or overseas - they still will have undergone this very painful process.”
The charity added that there is a ‘concerning trend’ for certain bull breed types to have cropped ears, including American bullies like Tyson.
Often these dogs have their ears cropped as puppies, sometimes as young as six-weeks-old.
RSPCA SOU chief inspector Mike Butcher said: “We’ve been made aware of lots of different breeds in which cropped ears is preferred to leaving the dogs’ ears as they would be naturally.
“There’s a cultural shift in what is popular. Social media, celebrity culture and imagery used in advertising is seeing that trend moving towards these bull breed type dogs, many of which have cropped ears.
“Ear cropping is becoming normalised and that’s something we need to put a stop to.
“We also think that many people simply aren’t aware that ear cropping is illegal. In some cases, people are misleadingly told that a cropped ear is more natural for the dog. That’s why it’s so important to get the right advice and information out there so owners can make informed decisions before buying a dog.”