Additional Legislation to Punish Dog Mutilation in Ireland

Ear cropping has been illegal in Ireland since 2013 under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, except when performed by a Veterinary Practitioner for veterinary therapeutic treatment. However, loopholes in the legislation have made it nearly impossible for authorities to secure prosecutions against those cropping, owning, or showing dogs with ear tissue removed for non-therapeutic reasons.

In response to this, Veterinary Ireland, in collaboration with the DSPCA and ISPCA within the Advisory Council on Companion Animal Welfare (ACCAW), prioritized legislative change to make it illegal to possess a dog with cropped ears or to exhibit dogs with cropped ears. Their efforts bore fruit with the introduction of the Ear-Cropping of Dogs Regulations 2023 (SI 412 of 2023).

The new legislation, effective from September 1, 2023, criminalizes the ownership of a dog with cropped ears. Additionally, the sale or supply of dogs with cropped ears, unless by listed charities, is prohibited. The regulations extend to cover the sale of equipment for ear cropping and the hosting of events featuring dogs with cropped ears. Violating these provisions could result in fines of up to €250,000 and imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years.

Certain exceptions are outlined in the legislation, allowing the possession of dogs with cropped ears under specific circumstances. These exceptions include dogs imported into Ireland with cropped ears, provided the owner possesses a valid import license; dogs rehomed from listed charities, with documented evidence of ear cropping upon rehoming; or dogs with a veterinary certificate confirming the therapeutic necessity for ear cropping.

Veterinary Ireland strongly condemns ear cropping, highlighting its inherent cruelty and the absence of concrete benefits for animal health or welfare. The organization stresses that ear cropping is unnecessary and harmful unless performed by a Veterinary Practitioner exclusively for therapeutic reasons and utilizing appropriate anesthesia and analgesia.

More at the Veterinary Ireland webpage.


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