Wigan man can keep his dogs after ear cropping trial

Dog with cropped ears dog-wow
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A Wigan man had a most fortunate escape from harsh justice this week when magistrates decided not to confiscate his dogs after finding the defendant guilty of the animals’ mutilation.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 31/08/2019, 16:00, Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:24

Zack Hurley from Kipling Avenue had sent his dogs out of the UK to have their ears cropped. The bench heard how Hurley had paid a foreign vet £800 in total to carry out the procedure on his two American Bullies.


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In mitigation Hurley told the court how he believed his doing so was not an offence. However, Hurley was told by Magistrates that his ignorance of UK law was not a suitable defence. Hurley was sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work. The 29-year-old was also ordered to pay £800 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.


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Hurley’s case is among an increasing number that are brought to trial via RSPCA investigations of social media accounts. Pictures of his dogs, Milan and Bagheera, were found by the Society on Hurley’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts prompting a visit by officers to the man’s address.

However, on their visits to see the dogs, the RSPCA officers told the court they found the dogs in excellent health and clearly much loved by their owner.

Writes Wigan Today, “the RSPCA said that while the practice of ear-cropping was “deliberate mutilation” and outlawed, it was clear that the dogs were “otherwise well looked after.


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The process of ear-cropping is banned in the UK but is not so stringently controlled in other countries. According to the RSCPA the operation is “painful and entirely unnecessary. "

The father of two was told by the court that should the full letter of the law be adhered to his dogs would be taken away. However, Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard how the dogs were “a huge part of his life”. The dogs were deemed to be well looked after and cared for, and taking them away from their owner would be “detrimental to the dogs’ wellbeing."


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