Vets and animal welfare organizations including The Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have raised the alarm over the character Ace, a Batman-inspired hound whose pointed ears have led to an outcry. The groups say the animated ears would not occur naturally and look cropped. They fear the character’s ears will fuel demand for a look which is the result of a “barbaric” procedure.
ear cropping involves cutting a puppy’s ears at a young age to alter their appearance. It is done for cosmetic reasons by cutting pieces of ear off.
Bill Lambert, The Kennel Club’s Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive, told Express.co.uk: “If Ace was a real dog he would have cropped ears. We recognize the film is an animation, but want people to recognize that, for dogs to look like that in real life, they have to have been cut.
“Ear-cropping is a barbaric, cruel practice.”
He explained The Kennel Club has raised concerns with Warner Bros. which reportedly told the organization Ace’s ears are designed to mimic Batman’s cowl. Warner Bros. has been approached for comment.
Animal charity the RSPCA has reported an increase in the number of dogs coming into its care with cropped ears.
It reported a 236 percent increase in the number of reports of ear-cropping between 2015-19 with 178 reports in total.
Mr Lambert said: “When people see [dogs with cropped ears], they don’t realize what it entails. Cutting pieces off a dog’s ears just for its appearance is just absolutely wrong. It’s not being done by vets. It’s not a surgical practice.
“It’s being done by people without any expertise. If a dog’s ear becomes infected, then it will require treatment. But people won’t go to a vet because a vet will see its ears are cropped so a lot of potential suffering will happen. “
The Kennel Club, The FOAL Group, members of the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition; BVA; British Veterinary Zoological Association; British Veterinary Nursing Association; British Small Animal Veterinary Association; Scottish SPCA; RSPCA; PDSA and Blue Cross have all signed an open letter to Warner Bros. outlining their concerns.
BVA President Justine Shotton said: “We’re really disappointed to see Warner Bros. using a dog with cropped ears in DC League of Super-Pets.
“While we understand this look has been created to emulate Batman’s iconic cowl, in reality, this extreme ear shape is only achieved through a painful process where the floppy part of a puppy’s ear is cut off, often without anesthesia or pain relief, then each stump is attached to a hard surface in a process known as splinting, to shape them upright whilst they are healing.”
She explained vets and animal welfare charities in the UK have seen a dramatic increase in the number of dogs with cropped ears recently, marking an “extremely worrying” trend towards the normalization of the illegal mutilation.
Ms Shotton said: “Unscrupulous breeders are tapping into this trend and using legal loopholes to import dogs with cropped ears from countries outside the UK where the procedure is still legal, or sending dogs bred in the UK overseas for the procedure. These loopholes also act as a smokescreen for illegal cropping taking place within the UK.
“We’d love parents to take the opportunity to talk about this serious welfare issue with their kids when going to see the film and for filmmakers and advertisers to use the BVA guidelines for pets in advertising to help promote healthy, happy animals and avoid unintentionally showing animals who have suffered for a trend.”
The BVA has also urged producers, celebrities and advertisers to beware of promoting the look on TV, in cinemas and on social media.
A petition calling on the Government to ban dogs with cropped ears being imported saw 16,000 people add their signatures.