Woman banned from keeping dogs after leaving puppy with infected stitch wounds from ear cropping

Credit: MEN Media
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A woman has been banned from keeping dogs after she failed to get treatment for her bulldog puppy's wounds leaving it in agony - instead asking her gardener for help.

The six-month-old XL bully-type breed called Babyface developed infected stitch wounds after undergoing an ear cropping procedure, which is illegal in the UK.

Jade O'Brien, from Stockport, said the procedure had been carried out abroad, but admitted she did not then take the puppy to a vet for treatment as she 'knew she would get in trouble'.

Instead, Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard, she asked her gardener for help.

O'Brien has now had the animal taken from her after she admitted causing it unnecessary suffering and has been banned for keeping any other dogs for three years.

The RSPCA, who brought the prosecution, first became involved when Inspector Beth Fazakerley went to a vets in Accrington, Lancashire, on 1 September, 2021 to examine two dogs who had been seized by police as part of an investigation under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

One of them was Babyface who had 'prominent scars' from stitches after recently having its ears cropped.

A staff member confirmed that when the dog arrived at the kennels two weeks before, she was suffering with open wounds to both ears.

“You could clearly see multiple horizontal scars and I was told that when she was seized she still had sutures that were cutting into her skin due to how inflamed and infected her ears were," Ms Fazakerley said in a witness statement.

O'Brien, of Cheadle Hulme, later told Ms Fazakerley that the dog had been imported from the US and that she was bought with her ears already cropped.

"She informed me that she bought Babyface from America as she buys her dogs from there and she said she likes the cropped-eared look," the inspector said.

“She said she’d only had Babyface a few days and she’d bought her with her ears already cropped."

“I asked if the dog had seen a vet and she said she didn’t want to take her as she knew she would get in trouble.

"But she’d asked her gardener, who breeds dogs, for help and he provided her with some antibiotics.”

O'Brien said she had administered one dose of antibiotics before the dog was seized from her home along with another female bully breed.

Six-month-old Babyface was left with 'severely' infected ears. Credit: MEN Media

After being seized, Babyface was taken to a vet to have her stitches removed and she was treated with painkillers and antibiotics.

An expert vet said the wounds on each of the dog’s ear pinnas appeared to be less than a week old and were 'severely infected' with a 'pus-like discharge.'

They said procedures involving sutures normally required them to be removed after 10 days or 'this can lead to the ears reacting to the sutures as foreign bodies with secondary bacterial infection, creating an acute inflammation with hot, swollen, painful tissues and discharge.'

They concluded Babyface would have been in pain for at least five days as she had not received any pain-killing medication.

O'Brien, of Ack Lane, Cheadle Hulme, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog and was sentenced on 8 March.

Another defendant has pleaded guilty to an animal welfare offence and will be sentenced at a later date, the RSPCA said.

O'Brien claimed in mitigation she had 'been influenced' and 'has health issues' the charity said.

She was handed an 18 month community order with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

She was also ordered to pay £400 court costs and a victim surcharge of £95. Magistrates made deprivation orders on Babyface and the other bully breed dog as well as issuing the three year ban on keeping any canines.

Babyface was taken into the care of the RSPCA's Southport, Ormskirk and District Branch who will now find her a new home.

Speaking after the case, Inspector Fazakerley said: “When we took Babyface into our care her wounds were starting to heal as the sutures had been taken out.

"But she still had scars going down from where they had cut into her ear. It was upsetting to see, but the branch staff in Southport have done a lot of work on her and she has come on so well.

“Ear cropping is all about image and owners who do this to their dogs or take on ownership when this procedure has already been done don’t seem to realise the repercussions for the animals in terms of how it affects their behaviour or the dreadful pain they go through.”