Three jailed for puppy mutilation

Magistrates send “clear message” to abusers

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When Lyla, an eight to ten-week-old bull breed puppy, was found in a flat by Staffordshire police she was in a semi-comatose state, and her ears had been cruelly chopped off in a prohibited procedure called ear cropping. They were cut so short that her cartilage was exposed.

Although now nearly two years old and safe in her forever home, Jake, who adopted Lyla, said she still suffers following her abuse.

“Lyla hates the rain as she has no way of preventing it going into her ear canal,” he said. “She will have some kind of infection at least once a month and that can be caused by water, either by swimming or rain, grass seed and just other stuff going in her ears.”

Three men sentenced

Ear cropping is a painful mutilation, involving cutting off part of the ear flap, often without anaesthesia or pain relief. It is illegal in the UK but still legal in other parts of the world. The RSPCA saw a 621 per cent increase in the number of reports of ear cropping in the six years to 2021.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines told Big Issue North last year that dogs have their ears cropped for one reason – to make them look “tougher and more intimidating”.

Three men have now been sentenced in the Staffordshire case. Lyla was one of six puppies found after police received a report in November 2020 of a group of men transporting a crate of dogs into a flat in Hanley. Police found Alexander David Johnson, Ryan Woodward, and Michael Nolan inside, along with the six pups. Three had had the illegal procedure.

PC Rebecca Tyler of Stoke North Policing Team said: “Two puppies were found bleeding with stitches in their ears and were hardly breathing, and another puppy was found with the same injuries hidden behind a sofa.”

Officers found an operating table and bag containing cash and medical equipment in the flat.

The police contacted the RSPCA, which took on the case. RSPCA inspector Jenny Bethel collected the puppies and took them to a vet.

“All three puppies had to have corrective surgery on their ears to have the stitching done properly so they wouldn’t get infected,” said Bethel.

Jailed, fined and banned

“They were crying in the vets with sore looking ears. It was just so sad. They were scared and confused.”

All three men pleaded guilty and have recently been sentenced. Johnson was convicted of cropping the ears of three puppies. Woodward aided, abetted, counselled or procured Johnson to carry out the offence. Nolan was responsible for a puppy and another person carried out a prohibited procedure.

Johnson was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison and ordered to pay £775 in costs. Woodward was jailed for 19 weeks and ordered to pay £775 costs. Nolan was jailed for 14 weeks and ordered to pay £400 costs.

All three men were disqualified from keeping dogs, Johnson for life and Woodward and Nolan for 15 years.

In an independent expert veterinary report presented to the court, it was stated that the cropping of the ears of the puppies would have caused them to suffer unnecessarily even though they were anaesthetised during the procedure, and they suffered considerable amounts of unnecessary pain and distress after the procedure. All the dogs have now been rehomed.

Bethel said: “We get calls about ear cropping all the time and we will act on it. We will come round and investigate. The magistrates have sent out a good message that it is not going to be tolerated.”

Photo: Lyla had her ears cropped to make her look “tough and intimidating” but she has now been rehomed 

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