Tips for Adopting a Pet for the First Time

Precise figures for the number of animals abandoned in the UK each year are hard to come by but in 2017 the RSPCA found new homes for more than 44,600 animals, so given that the RSPCA is just one of a number of animal re-homing charities, it gives you an idea of the scale of the problem.

There is no shortage of abandoned pets in need of a home and choosing to adopt an abandoned pet is a way in which we can all do our bit to help alleviate a continuing national problem.  Although dogs and cats are the most popular choices you can also adopt rabbits, rodents, reptiles, birds, fish, poultry and even horses.

Whatever animal you choose to adopt, you need to give it a little forethought and a little planning, remember, you may not have a full history for your new pet and you won’t always know what trauma or illness your pet has endured. So, here are some suggestions for things you ought to consider.


Make sure that you’re going to be able to spend time with your new pet so that you can get to know one another.  It won’t do to bring a frightened, disorientated animal into a new environment and then rush off to work and leave it alone for eight hours.  Maybe you’ll need to take a few days off work so that you can spend time settling your new pet into its new home, that way it will become comfortable and trusting much sooner.


Your pet might have spent time living on the street at some point so make sure that it’s had all the necessary vaccinations and isn’t carrying any diseases.


In order to make sure that your pet will always be taken care of, no matter what happens, you should take out pet insurance.  Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive available and will cover you for things like medical care, the cost of kennels or cattery if you are unable to look after your pet for a period of time and third-party cover should your pet harm another person or their property.  Interestingly, cats are legally regarded as ‘free spirits’ and consequently you won’t be liable for their actions.

Prepare your home

Depending on the kind of animal that you’re bringing into your home, you’re going to need to make sure that you’ve removed dangerous or precious objects and that your pet has its own safe place with plenty of toys.


The rescue centre will be able to tell you if your pet is microchipped, they may even have done it for you.  Microchipping an animal is the best way to ensure that if they go missing they can quickly be identified and it’s a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK.  The microchip is inserted by a vet in a simple, painless, procedure.  It’s important that once your pet is microchipped, you update your details when necessary.  This can be done online, by telephone or by post.


Related Post

Posted in Animal Welfare, Cats, Dogs, Pets, rescue | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WAGTAIL COTTAGE: Dog Friendly Holiday Cottage

Our Editor Marie Carter-Robb has a very dog-friendly cottage available for holiday lets.

Wagtail Cottage is a traditional cottage built in the 1890s and situated in the wonderful rambling countryside of rural County Durham, less than 2 miles from Raby Castle.

​Cosy and pet-friendly, Wagtail Cottage is located in the rural hamlet of Esperley, 3 miles from Staindrop. It’s the perfect retreat for anyone wishing to explore the local countryside or just take it easy.

View from garden

The surrounding area is ideal for walking and sightseeing, with a host of historical buildings to visit nearby, including impressive Raby Castle, The Bowes Museum, Egglestone Hall, set in attractive walled gardens, the ruins of Barnard Castle.

The cottage is self-catering and there will be welcoming treats for both pets and people on arrival. Warm and welcoming, the cottage is cosy and tastefully decorated.

To book and to find out more, visit:

Related Post

Posted in dog-friendly, dogs, Holidays | Tagged | Leave a comment

The ‘Missing Link’ of Dog Training

By Tony Knight Dog Listener

I once met a couple in Canberra, Australia who were being bitten on a regular basis at home by their dog. They decided that the offending pooch needed training, so they started attending obedience classes. Their dog became the star pupil, winning all the prizes at competitions for his impressive repertoire. The wife became so good at the obedience skills too that she became an obedience instructor – excellent…

They were still both getting bitten on a regular basis at home though…

When I met the dog in question, he tested me with a simple approach; coming up to me without me calling him. What do most people do when a dog comes up to them? What do you think the owners of this individual would do? What do you think was the result? I paid no attention to him and he walked back to his bed, gave me an appraising look and lay back down in his bed. A few moments later, I called him to me. He opened one lazy eye, looked at me then stayed put. Less than a minute later, he got up, stretched while fixing his gaze directly at me and walked up to me. What do most people do when a dog comes up to them? What do you think the owners of this individual would do? What do you think was the result? The game continued like this for a while; by the end of my visit, I had patted him a few times without getting bitten once he realised that I understood his game and would not fall for it.

Dogs are capable of learning all kinds of clever tasks and tricks; I have worked with police dogs, guide dogs for the Blind and even a dog that was trained to help a wheelchair-bound human to live a more independent life by helping with household chores. In each case, the dogs have asked questions of me on a fundamental level that was far more important to them than the jobs they had. I live opposite a park which has a little playground – I am a bad gardener so the idea of having a big garden next door that someone else mows was a stroke of genius in my head. Anyway, when my nieces would visit, they wanted to play on the swings and slide et al. I would accompany them and make sure that they were safe (well, as safe as they could be with an uncle who would push the swings a little too hard – I wanted to see if I could get them to spin all the way around…). However, even though they were my responsibility, I would not tell them what they could play on unless I felt it was unsafe. My job here was to make them happy.

The same principle explains why there are so many dogs that are super attentive and talented when attending obedience classes, yet they are a nightmare as soon as they leave the class or show ring. They are doing their best to make their people happy but ultimately they also believe that they are responsible for their human’s safety too. This responsibility leads to so many behaviour problems in the everyday world.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that there is no place for obedience training. As long as lessons are fun and positive you can enjoy this kind of work. I see it as icing on the cake; you can make the cake look as fancy as you want, provided the cake is underneath, supporting the whole construction. Without a cake underneath, there is an empty space which means the slightest pressure can bring the whole thing crashing down.

As a Dog Listener, I provide people with the recipe to make the cake. Once that is in place, you can ice away. Dogs will ask us questions everyday about the cake element, finding out which member of the family (if anyone) can be trusted to look after everyone. In the absence of a responsible human, the dog takes over this necessary role. Once you know how to show your dog that they can trust you, the pressure if off them and they can actually learn the icing part more easily.

In some cases, the training that a dog receives – to work with the police or blind people – is not cheap. It would be a huge shame to waste all that money when the way to turn failure into success is as simple as having the cake underneath all that icing. I once helped four potential guide dogs transform from failures (one was even biting the handler) to three successful graduates. Even the biter became a family pet so I will count that as a quartet of wins…

The good news is that the two elements are not mutually exclusive. You can enjoy the icing with the support of the cake underneath. The Dog Listening method compliments and improves the results of all other kinds of training – obedience, guide dog training, police work, sniffer dogs, armed forces roles etc. – by showing the dog that they can ultimately look to their human companion for decisions. Once the harness is on a Guide dog, they are working to help their human stay safe. At all other times, it is not hard to show them that they can trust their person with everything else…

Posted in dog-friendly, dogs, Exercise, training | Leave a comment

How to Have a Happy Cat (or Dog!)

Pets bring us an unparalleled amount of love and affection, and ask for so little in return, but when our pets are miserable it can really take its toll on our emotional health and wellbeing.

Whilst dogs are relatively easy to please and you can almost be guaranteed that you’ll get a wagging tail upon returning home, cats are a little more mercurial, in that they tend to want things much more on their terms.  

In a similar vein, training a dog is relatively simple as dogs are by nature complaint to their owner’s requests, yet cats are a little more ignorant, and independent to the point of being fiercely independent.  Indeed, cats tend to like things on their terms to the point that often we can feel subservient to our cats and sometimes it can feel as if we are living our lives to placate them – which can be a difficult job.

We often feel responsible for our pets happiness and when our pets are feeling a bit blue it affects our own sense of self esteem and levels of contentment, as we deeply care about our pets, but also if you’re greeted each day to a cat that’s miserable and meowing at you insatiably, where it can feel like no matter what you do it’s not good enough – it can really take its toll on you.

That’s why, in this article, we’re going to look at three ways to ensure your cat is happy within your home environment as having a happy cat is required to have a happy home.

Affection & Engagement

Cats are known for being fiercely independent yet they also have a strong emotional need for stability and affection.  Cats don’t tend to respond well to sudden change as they value routine. Just like a child they need to know they have a warm, safe, and comfortable home environment to come back to after their little adventures out on the prowl; and a large part of this comes down to having a reliable source of comfort and tactile affection.

Cats unlike dogs, tend to want affection when they feel like it, and tend to require you to come to them rather than them to come to you… but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a good cuddle and stroking session.

The benefits of petting your cat, of course, extend to improvements in your own wellbeing. Stroking your pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog, has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve depression and elevate mood in both humans and your pets.  WebMD has more information about the health benefits of petting animals.

Diet and Nutrition

With such a wide array of cat food options the most important advice is to look beyond the marketing hype and focus on the ingredient list; as this way you can determine the nutritional value of the product.

Cats have specific nutritional requirements as they are “obligate carnivores” meaning they need animal proteins to stay healthy.  It’s therefore important they have food comprising predominantly of meat proteins.

One thing you may notice is that some cats will eat grass, which may seem alarming, at first, but just like how dogs eat grass when they need to settle their stomach, cats eat grass to help their digestion in a similar way.  If you have an indoor cut it can be good to invest in some cat grass, as cat grass can help with common ailments like constipation and hairballs.

Equally important to food is hydration – your cats need water – they might not lap it up in the same way as a dog does, but it’s vitally important you supply them with a fresh supply of clean water each day.  Of course, some cats will be thirstier than others and if your cat doesn’t tend to drink much fresh water it’s important to remember they are consuming water within their food (if it’s wet food) and therefore don’t require so much.

Flea Treatment

The most obvious sign that your cat has fleas is when they start itching a lot.  If you have a flea infestation in your home, whether this is from a cat or a dog, neither you or your pet will be happy in your home environment.  Prevention is, of course, much better than cure when it comes to fleas, as treating an infestation, particularly if the fleas start hatching within your home can be a nightmare.

It’s important to note that around 95% of fleas and flea eggs are likely to be in your home rather than on your cat.

Therefore in addition to treating your cat, you need rid your home of fleas, and this process can be a lot more involved than you first thing; requiring several rounds of elimination to ensure any dormant eggs that didn’t get treated the first time around and have since hatched are now taken care of.

In summary, having a happy cat (or dog for that matter) is a relatively simple recipe – you just need to make sure they get plenty of love and affection, stability, adequate nutrition and hydration plus a good prophylactic flea prevention treatment each month.

Related Post

Posted in Cats, health, Pets | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Paws Up! Tips When Taking your Beloved Pet Abroad

Taking your pet abroad isn’t as hard as you would think. The truth is that there have been a lot of changes over the last couple of years that have made the whole process way easier, but you do still need to do your research and know the requirements that are present.

Travelling with Your Pet

If you are taking your dog abroad then you need to make sure that they are microchipped. You also need to make sure that they have a pet passport and that they have had all of the treatment that they need before they go. When you do take your pet abroad, you need to make sure that you have the right carrier, and that the route you are travelling on is approved. The problem here is that if you do not make the effort to make sure that your pet is checked or microchipped then they could be put in quarantine or even sent back to your home country.


If you do plan on going to a hotter country then you need to try and consider the climate in your destination. Remember that your dog is used to the climate in the country that you are in now, so it will take them time to adjust. Don’t take your pet anywhere that could put them at risk of heat exhaustion, and don’t take them somewhere they may struggle with the cold either. If your dog has a long coat then they will suffer more in the heat when compared to a dog with a shorter coat for example, so do keep this in mind. If your dog is there for emotional support, then it’s worth looking into sites such as CertPet.


Changing the Routine

Your dog will probably be very stressed at the thought of having their routine changed. This is completely normal and you may even find that they can’t enjoy themselves when they are there as a result. If you know that there is going to be a huge change for them then try and take things that will help them to feel at home. This can include their bedding, their food and even their favourite toys. You also need to give them to adjust and always be supportive of them whenever they need it the most. You also need to try and calm them down if you are going on a flight as well, and there are so many herbal remedies out there for you to choose from if you want to try and put their mind at ease. It may even be worth talking to your vet to find out if there is anything that you can do as well, because if you have an overly anxious dog then this can cause them to react very badly to certain situations.

Keeping your dog safe and sound when you go abroad doesn’t have to be difficult, and by taking into account the above hints and tips, you can be sure to really keep them nice and relaxed while you look forward to the trip ahead.

Posted in dogs, Holidays, travel | Leave a comment

Safe Washing Methods For A Clean and Content Horse

Owning a horse comes with an abundance of pleasure and joy; you have a best friend who soothes you and gives you the excitement of riding. You don’t like discussing the downfalls of having a horse, but it is important to address the amount of time it takes to clean and care for them so they remain healthy and happy. You are always looking for the latest equestrian tips to keep you well informed and now it’s time to branch out even further and seek out some more maintenance tips. Here are a handful of ways that you can wash your horse whilst keeping the environment, themselves and yourself completely safe. Regular washing will ensure the horse performs well and remains content at all times.

Upgrade Your Facilities

If your stable isn’t already equipped with the necessary items to wash and clear away the soapy water from your horse then you might need to consider this. Take some time to design a washing area that suits your individual needs. There is no ones size fits all method, but you should also seriously consider the impact you have on the environment. Your stable could be contributing massively to your cities sewers so it is advised that you look online for the septic tanks available. This will allow gallons of soapy water to flow smoothly down the drain at all, without contributing negatively to your local sewer systems.

Location Is Key

You want to think about where exactly you plan on washing your horse. Think about where the spray and run off is going to end up within your wash facilities. You might consider an outdoor washing area to be the best for you and your horse so you aren’t trapped inside a damp and loud indoor stall.

They Need Space

Size really matters when it comes to keeping your horse clean; small wash racks can actually be quite dangerous for the horse and you, so make sure you have plenty of room around you. Depending on the temperament of your horse you might want to consider the layout too. An open space will always be the safest option for everybody, but if you have to be indoors then opt for at least a ten foot by ten foot space.

Think About Your Water Supply

You will need a strong water pressure coming from your hose, so make sure you invest in a high quality, industrial hose if you can. You should make sure your hydrant isn’t going to freeze over in cold weather too, so a frost-free one should be your first choice. You always want to consider the environment, so you want a secure, brass pressure nozzle that isn’t going to waste water when it’s not in use.

Washing your horse doesn’t have the be the dreaded chore you look ahead to every week, make it practical, simple and fun. Your horse is just like a human; they perspire, they get dirty and they need a good old scrub from time to time. This will keep their body healthy and safe from dangers such as worms. As long as you are aware of how to wash and care for your horse they will be living an enjoyable and care free life with you.

Related Post

Posted in health, Horses | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beloved Terrier Praised for Supporting Son in Throes of Addiction

Beloved family dog: Tottie

A Shropshire family has highlighted the invaluable support rescue dogs can give to people who are battling addictions.

Tottie was born in 2003 and was the last of an abandoned litter of puppies to be homed by the Dogs Trust at Roden Shropshire. She died recently one month short of her 15th birthday but will always be remembered for the love and support she gave to her owner who suffered from alcohol addiction.

Tom Maybury died five years ago at the age of 29 but the recent death of Tottie has led Tom’s mother Sally and younger brother Henry to raise awareness of how rescue dogs can make such a difference to people’s lives.

Henry Maybury, Tom’s brother, said: “Tottie’s brothers and sisters found homes and she was the last to be picked. Because of her lack of toilet training she was then returned after a few weeks.

“We visited the Dogs Trust because Tom was adamant he wanted a dog. On seeing this little one with a huge head Tom decided he wanted her, despite us trying to persuade him otherwise.

“Tom absolutely idolised her, she really was his little girl. She would go to work with him, riding in the tractor cabin, keeping him company.

“Sadly, after Tom had been looking after Tottie for about six years he was unable to care for her properly because he was fighting his own demons, alcohol addiction. Tottie moved in with mum but Tom visited regularly, walking her – he really did love her to bits.

“When Tom moved back with mum for a spell of support, she would frequently find Tottie lying on the bed with him. Tottie played such a large part in Tom’s life and I am sure she helped him in trying to cope with his demons.”

After Tom’s death Henry, a singer/songwriter, came across the songs ‘Lost Days’ and ‘Every Night And Day’ and decided they would be the ideal vehicle to make people aware of alcohol addiction and how easy it is to fall into that trap.

Videos of both songs (see below) were made and featured Tottie as she was such a large part of Tom’s life.

“After releasing the videos and travelling all around the UK visiting schools, prisons and rehabs Tottie became a star in her own right,” added Henry.

“Students would message me through Facebook and Instagram asking me how Tottie was and what she was up to. Prisoners would beg me to bring her into prisons so they could meet her – I wish it had been something I was allowed to do.

“Tottie started suffering from arthritis and dementia last year and towards Christmas we knew she had come to the end, so we all said our goodbyes to a very special lady, who is now reunited with her best friend Tom.”

Tom’s mum Sally said: “I would never have thought that after the sadness of five years ago of losing my son Tom that I would now feel joy from seeing the amazing response to our addiction programme from students in schools, parents, prisoners and those fighting addiction and in recovery.

“We are working with Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) who are a government funded organisation who tackle the problem of underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour all across the UK. They invited us to the House Of Commons where Henry was presented with the ‘Youth Community Champion Award.’ I was so proud of him.”

As the saying goes ‘a man’s best friend is his dog’ so true in so many ways. But Tom’s Tottie was even more than this bringing so much unconditional love and support to him and us as a family. We have so much to thank Tottie for during those wonderful 14 years and 11 months of her life. She will be sadly missed but never ever forgotten.”

Henry is donating 100% of the proceeds from his debut single ‘Lost Days’ to addiction charities globally. For further information for donations and bookings please visit

Related Post

Posted in addiction, dogs, health, Lifestyle, Pets, therapy, Videos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Dose and Administer Capsules and Tablets to Your Cat or Dog

By Korina Stephens RVN, nutravet (UK) Ltd

Getting your cat or dog to take a capsule or tablet can be a challenge. Many pet owners struggle with this, as pets can be very susceptible to anything out of the ordinary in their food. Pets may need to take medication regularly due to health issues, and this can become very stressful for the pet and their owner.

Before administering any medication to your pet, make sure you check the dose and ensure this is followed at all times.

If your cat or dog will happily eat the capsule/tablet out of your hand without any fuss then this is the best way to give it to them. Follow this up with a treat to reward their good behaviour. If your pet is not that happy taking capsules/tablets, there are some positive things you could try to make the process stress free, which include:

Stay calm – always remain calm when administering medication to your cat or dog, this will prevent them from thinking anything is wrong and getting stressed.

Mix into food – if the capsules/tablets need to be given with food, try disguising them in their meal. Open the capsule and empty the contents over their food and mix it in well. Try mixing the contents of the capsules with something you know your pet likes, for example fish paste or pate. If it is a tablet you could crush with the back of a spoon and then mix into the food.

Split food into two portions – Give your cat or dog a small amount of food with the capsule/tablet, which they are more likely to eat. Once they have eaten it all, give them the rest of their food. Less powder content per feed can improve palatability.

Coat with a treat – if they won’t eat them with their regular food, you could coat the capsule/tablet in a soft, malleable food, such as a small chewy treat. Make sure it is small enough to swallow without chewing; dogs are very clever and if they taste something they don’t like they may eat around the capsule or tablet. For your dog you could try wrapping the tablet/capsule in ham or something like a small portion of cheese could work for your cat.

Disguise the tablet/capsule – some pets can smell the tablets and will simply eat around them. To prevent this, you could mix the contents of the capsule or crush the tablet into something smelly, such as tuna or sardines.

Giving the capsules/tablets whole by mouth


  • This process can be easier if your dog is in the sit or down position so that they are unable to run away.
  • Get your dog to sit upright, tilt their head back and open their mouth. Their jaw won’t open automatically, so you may have to prise it to open with your hand.
  • Place the capsule/tablet as far back on their tongue as you can and then close their mouth.
  • Keep your hand over the top and bottom of their mouth and gently stroke their throat, which helps to encourage them to swallow.
  • Be sure to stay calm during the process offering words of encouragement and follow with a treat to reward their good behaviour.


  • If your cat is known to scratch when giving them tablets, you could wrap them in a towel, which will enclose their legs and feet.
  • Once you have your cat in a comfortable position, tilt their head back and the lower jaw should drop open slightly.
  • Hold the tablet in your right hand, drop the tablet as far back as you can on the tongue and close their mouth until your cat swallows.
  • Gentle rub under the chin to encourage swallowing whilst keeping the mouth closed.
  • If dropping the tablet in doesn’t work, you could try dropping a small amount of water into the mouth to encourage swallowing.

When giving capsules/tablets to your pet, speed is of the essence to prevent causing your cat or dog to get too stressed. When placing your fingers in their mouth, be sure to do this quickly to prevent getting bitten.

Related Post

Posted in Cats, Dogs, dogs, health, Pets, vets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Law Needed to Protect Four-legged Crime Fighters, Says Police Boss

Clare Vickers and Marie Jones meet Otis with North Wales Police Dog Handler SGT Howard Watts

A police boss is backing demands for a new law to make it an offence to attack four-legged crime fighters.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is supporting the campaign for tougher measures to protect service animals, including police dogs and horses.

Mr Jones spoke out after the proposed Service Animals Offences Bill suffered a setback in the House of Commons when the Ministry of Justice tabled an official objection.

More than 127,000 people have signed a petition calling for the change.

The campaign was launched by PC Dave Wardell, from Hertfordshire Police, after he was attacked with his police dog Finn when they were chasing a robbery suspect in 2011.

During the incident, the suspect injured PC Wardell’s hand, and also stabbed Finn in the head and chest as the German Shepherd tried to stop him from getting away.

While the suspect was charged with actual bodily harm for his injuries to PC Dave Wardell, he was only charged with criminal damage for almost killing Finn, as dogs are considered property in the eyes of the law.

Criminal damage is currently the only available charge for someone who attacks a police or service animal – even though dogs are often bitten, kicked and strangled while in the line of duty.

According to Mr Jones, a former police inspector,  service animals are the unsung heroes of policing and deserve better legal protection.

Mr Jones said: “Police dogs and horses play an important role in a whole range of areas like crowd control, drug detection, searching for missing people and catching offenders.

“It is wrong that these animals are treated as equipment because they are key members of the frontline policing team.

“They risk harm on a regular basis to keep their handlers and the public safe and legislation should be amended to give them the protection they deserve.”

Mr Jones has already set up a scheme to keep a check on the welfare of police dogs in North Wales.

Marie Jones and Clare Vickers have been appointed as volunteer dog welfare visitors, working alongside colleagues in Cheshire.

They make monthly unannounced visits to view dog training sessions or visit dog handlers and their canine companions out on patrol.

Their brief is to ensure police dogs are properly cared for, happy and their working conditions are acceptable.

He added: “It’s important North Wales Police is transparent and the general public has confidence that the dogs are properly cared for and trained well. North Wales Police and Cheshire dog sections work very closely together and share training.

“I know the dog visitor scheme is working well in Cheshire and I was encouraged to set up the scheme by Sergeant Howard Watts, a North Wales dog handler, who pushed for its introduction.

“It is important we have independent checks and controls in place to ensure good animal welfare standards are robustly maintained. We must ensure our dogs are happy and well cared for.

“What we need to do now is to put Finn’s Law on the statute book so we plug this unfair gap in the law.

“It is only right and proper that service animals are afforded the same level of protection as domestic animals.”

Related Post

Posted in Awards, crime, dogs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

RSPCA Urges Public Not to Buy Dogs with Cropped Ears 

Animal welfare charity has seen 157% increase in reports of dogs with cropped ears over last two years

The RSPCA is urging the public never to buy a dog with cropped ears as the charity has seen a surge in the number of reports coming into its cruelty hotline about the illegal practice.

Ear cropping is illegal in England & Wales under the Animal Welfare Act but, since 2015, the RSPCA is receiving more reports and tip-offs about dogs having their ears removed.

In 2015, the charity had just 14 reports* of ear cropping but, last year, 36 reports came through the charity’s cruelty hotline – that’s a 157% increase over just two years.

It is illegal, under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to crop a dog’s ears but the charity fears that images shared on social media, especially from the USA and in Europe where the practice is legal or unregulated in many states/countries, celebrity culture and an increase in bull breeds seen in advertising is making the ‘look’ more popular.

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 said: “Ear cropping is a process where ears are removed or surgically altered, usually for the purposes of appearance.

“It’s a painful and wholly unnecessary process which does not benefit the dog in any way and can, in fact, be detrimental to their health, behaviour and welfare.

“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.”

There is a concerning trend for certain bull breed types to have cropped ears such as American bullies, cane corsos, presa canarias and dobermans. Often, dogs are having their ears cropped as puppies, sometimes as young as six-weeks-old.

The RSPCA has a number of ongoing investigations into ear cropping in England and has also had some successful convictions for illegally cropping dogs’ ears. In November 2015, the charity prosecuted a man and woman from Essex for causing unnecessary suffering to a doberman by splinting (inserting hard wooden or cardboard splints to force the ears to grow upwards) cropped ears.

The animal welfare charity – the UK’s largest and oldest, rescuing more than 8,000 dogs every year – is also seeing more dogs with cropped ears coming into its care.


Neapolitan mastiff Eaton is currently being cared for by staff at RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. He was rescued alongside his sibling – both of whom had had their ears cropped – from Birmingham and their previous owner was prosecuted. He is a big boy who now weighs 50kg! He is still being rehabilitated and assessed by staff at the centre before he begins his search for a suitable home.


Anatolian shepherd Sammy was rescued from abroad by his previous owners who had to hand him over to the RSPCA when they could no longer care for him. He is now being looked after at RSPCA Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford & District branch, in West Yorkshire, and is searching for a loving new home. Staff believe the 50kg, 1m-tall pooch lost his ears during his former life in Romania and the suspicion is that his ears were cropped due to his breed. But he’s one of the lucky ones and the painful procedure hasn’t done any lasting damage.

As well as being an extremely unpleasant procedure for dogs to endure, ear cropping can have long-term implications for dogs’ health and welfare.

Dr Gaines added: “Dogs with cropped ears can have ongoing and unnecessary health issues associated with the procedure, such as wound infections. Depending on the breed and type of crop, the mobility of the ear can be altered and their behaviour can also be affected.

“Dogs use many parts of their body to communicate with other dogs and also with people. Their ears are a vital part of this body language so, without them, they can struggle to let other dogs and people know when they’re feeling uncomfortable or anxious. As a result of this, this can lead to problems with aggressive behaviour.”

The RSPCA has this month launched a campaign calling on any prospective dog owners not buy dogs with cropped ears – and to educate people on the issues around ear cropping and why welfare experts don’t believe people should support this cruel practice.

The RSPCA is aware of four different types of crop which are used for different reasons and within different breeds:

  • Battle crop;

  • Short crop;

  • Show crop;

  • Long crop.

Chief inspector Mike Butcher, from the RSPCA’s SOU, 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.”

Related Post

Posted in Animal Welfare, dog-friendly, dogs, health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment