Animal Welfare

James Daly Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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James Daly Portrait James Daly (Bury North) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. Mr Mundell. I endorse the things that all colleagues have spoken about.

I will concentrate my remarks on e-petition 574305 regarding ear cropping of dogs in the UK, which is an abhorrent practice. In recognition that there is no medical justification for ear cropping, the procedure has been banned in the UK for over 100 years and is currently covered by section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 as an illegal mutilation. I am grateful to Pennine Vets in my constituency for briefing me on this important issue.

The current position in the UK is that although it is illegal to conduct such mutilation, it is not illegal to import a dog with cropped ears, which has resulted in several issues. The first is that owners and breeders can send their puppies abroad to be cropped and then returned to the UK, only to claim that the dog is a legal import. This quite frequently involves transporting a puppy that is too young for travel, but it also means that if the cropping is done in another country where cropping is illegal, the enforcement agencies in that country are not able to bring any prosecutions, as the evidence—the cropped puppy—has left their jurisdiction.

The second issue is that pro croppers have relied on the ability to import cropped dogs in order to hide a very dark back-street practice, whereby breeders or owners undertake illegal do-it-yourself cropping, frequently with no medical knowledge or training, and with rudimentary equipment, no anaesthetic and no post-operative pain relief for the dogs. As the ability to import cropped dogs also extends to rescue dogs, it is imperative that genuine rescue dogs are protected and are not demonised due to the abuse they have suffered. The pain and suffering caused to the dogs does not cease post procedure. One of the breeds frequently cropped is the Doberman, which is a large and noble breed. For Doberman puppies, ear cropping can mean not only the severance of a significant part of their ear flap, but months of splinting and/or taping in order to encourage the remaining ear to stand erect. This is not a guaranteed result; it can and does fail, leaving the dog either having to go through further surgery to try to obtain the original desired look, or with one ear erect and one ear flapping. Wound infections are not uncommon. The practice is utterly abhorrent, and I fully support the Government’s move to include ear cropping in the action plan for animal welfare.

I have to finish by echoing something that my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Dr Hudson) said—not forgetting the cat. On numerous occasions, I have stood with my hon. Friend the Minister and talked about Gizmo’s law, which is not included—I stand to be corrected—in the plan for animal welfare. It is an animal welfare issue that is incredibly serious and very important to people in my constituency, and I know that other colleagues, including the shadow Minister, have had meetings with Helena Abrahams—a force of nature—to try to put this important law into statute. I am grateful that the Government adopted Tuk’s law, which was part of a private Member’s Bill that I introduced, and I hope that Gizmo’s law will follow very shortly.