Fundraising appeal launched for specialist surgery on cropped dog’s ears

An RSPCA branch is trying to raise thousands for specialist surgery to treat a cropped dog’s chronic ear condition.

Two-year-old American, Lexi was in chronic pain, scratching at her ears and crying after the ear condition was left without treatment.

When an RSPCA inspector brought her into the charity’s Coventry & District branch, in the West Midlands, in January, she was in unbearable pain.

Dave Budd, from the branch, said: “Poor Lexi had been found in poor conditions where she’d essentially been left to care for herself. She was suffering from a chronic ear condition. Had it been treated in its early stages by her owners then it wouldn’t have progressed to be so serious and Lexi wouldn’t have been in such severe discomfort. There was no relief from the agony, which left her scratching at her ears and crying in pain.”

Lexi was seen by numerous vets and tried to number of medications to ease the condition and make her more comfortable, but unfortunately, her ears were so swollen and damaged from the infection that the ear canal has virtually closed, also leaving her partially deaf.

Dave adds: “Sadly, vets have decided that the only option is major surgery – called total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy, or TECA for short – that involves completely removing the ear canal and tympanic bull (middle ear), leaving only the pinna (or ear flap) remaining. While this procedure will make Lexi completely deaf, it will eradicate the pain.

“Lexi has also had her ears cruelly cropped earlier in her life which will make the surgery even more challenging and will increase the risk of infection during her recovery. It is a common misconception that cropping ears will prevent ear infections, but Lexi is proof that this simply isn’t the cases and, in fact, her cropping will likely lead to further problems for her as she recovers from this surgery.”

Ear cropping is a cruel practice which has been illegal in the UK, under the Animal Welfare Act, since 2006. It is a practice in which a dog’s ears are cut or removed completely in order to achieve a certain aesthetic, and in some cases a tough look, and the RSPCA is worryingly seeing more and more dogs arriving in its care having endured the barbaric procedure.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Dogs – often large breeds such as Dobermans, cane corsos, or bull breeds, like Lexi – will typically have their ears crossed when they’re puppies.

“As the procedure is illegal here, many dogs are imported with cropped ears from countries such as Russia and the USA – were it is widely practised – or may have it carried out ‘underground’ here, often without any anaesthetic or pain relief. The wounds can often become infected and can take months to heal, leaving dogs in excruciating pain.

“Cropping can also lead a life-long health and behavioural problems. Dogs can be left incredibly head shy and have sensitivities around being touched near their ears or may struggle to trust people after being subjected to such brutality. Others find it difficult to communicate with people, other dogs and other animals. Ears are a key communication tool for dogs so those were cropped ears can develop difficulties socialising with other dogs as they find it difficult to display normal body language without their ears.

“Ultimately, ear cropping in incredibly damaging for dogs, which is why it’s illegal in the UK. The procedure has absolutely no benefit at all for the dog and is done purely for cosmetic reasons, which is disgusting. Over the next six years we’ve seen a 621% increase in the number of reports of ear cropping at the RSPCA and we believe this may be being driven by more dogs being imported with cropped ears which is why we’re now backing a campaign calling for a ban on the importation of cropped dogs from overseas.”

Lexi is currently being looked after by a fosterer and has shown she’s a loving, playful and affectionate dog who loves nothing more than playing with her toys, having tummy rubs and curling up to snooze with her favourite toys.

RSPCA Coventry & District branch has launched a special fundraising appeal to raise money for Lexi’s specialist surgery and would welcome any support.

The branch is an independent, separately registered charity and relies on support from the public to run. To support their work, you can visit www.rspca-coventryanddistrict.org.uk/donate.