A "Paw-sitive" Development: New Regulations to target the Practice of Dog Ear Cropping | Fieldfisher
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A "Paw-sitive" Development: New Regulations to target the Practice of Dog Ear Cropping



The Ear-Cropping of Dogs Regulations 2023 (the "Regulations") were signed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, on 18 August 2023. These Regulations, enacted "to protect dogs across Ireland from this unjustifiable and needless mutilation", according to Minister McConalogue, will take effect from 1 September 2023.
The aim of these new Regulations is to tighten the restrictions that are already in place to bring to a halt the practice of ear cropping of dogs. Ear cropping is the removal of all or part of the ear of a dog (and for the purpose of the regulations) applies where it is done for a reason other than diagnosing or treating dogs for an injury, disease or infection or where it is done by someone who is not a veterinary practitioner.

The removal of ear tissue of dogs, other than by a registered veterinary practitioner is already an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013[1], but the new Regulations have now placed restrictions on owning, possessing, importing and selling or supplying dogs who have been subject to this practice.

Key Provisions of the Regulations
  • The Regulations prohibit  the possession, importation, sale or supply of a dog where all or part of the ear of the dog has been removed. It is irrelevant for the purpose of the Regulations whether the removal or partial removal took place prior or after the commencement of the Regulations.
  • It will be illegal for a person to be in possession of a dog with cropped or partially cropped ears unless they have the necessary documentation in their possession, being;
    • An Import licence.
    • Veterinary certificate attesting that the dog's ears were cropped for a specific veterinary purpose or a veterinary record showing that the procedure was carried out to diagnose or treat an injury, disease or infection.
    • A record supplied from a list of animal welfare organisations (yet to be published by the Minister) who are approved by the Minister to rehome dogs with cropped ears.
  • The Regulations ban the importation of a dog with cropped ears into Ireland without an already granted import licence. In addition to this, a dog with cropped ears being imported into Ireland will need to be accompanied by a veterinary certificate from the place of origin to attest that the ears were removed or partly removed for a specified veterinary purpose.
  • Those in charge of a vessel, vehicle or aircraft are prohibited from importing a dog with cropped ears unless the owner has a licence granted by the Minister permitting them to import the dog to Ireland.
  • The sale and supply of dogs with cropped ears is prohibited, unless it is sold or supplied by one of the approved animal welfare charities from the list that will be published by the Minister. This provision permits the rehoming of dogs who are under the care of one of the approved charities.
  • The Regulations also ban the owning, selling or supplying of equipment that can be used to crop a dog's ears for anyone other than a registered veterinary practitioner.
  • Where the ears of a dog have been cropped by a practising vet for medical reasons, a record of same must be provided to the dog owner to show the medical reason this was done for. Additionally, where an approved animal welfare organisation rehomes a dog with cropped ears, a record is to be provided to the new owners.
  • The Regulations further prohibit the hosting of events or competitions that have dogs whose ears have been cropped.

Breaches of the Regulations attract strict penalties in order to deter this practice. On indictment, anyone found guilty of contravening the Regulations can face a fine of up to €250,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years and on a summary conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to €5,000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment.

These Regulations aim to protect dogs from what animal welfare charities and dog-lovers have highlighted is a cruel and harmful practice and those who have welcomed the introduction of these Regulations hope that this will both deter and punish those who seek to crop ears of dogs.

Written by Aisling Ray, Hannah Unger, and Adenike Akintonde

[1] s16(1) of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013

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