Can you help us pay for Lexi's specialist surgery?
Our branch is trying to raise thousands for specialist surgery to treat a cropped dog's chronic ear condition.
Two-year-old American bulldog, Lexi, was left in chronic pain, scratching at her ears and crying after the ear condition was left without treatment. When our inspector brought her into our Coventry and 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 a 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.
Major surgery is needed
"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 case and, in fact, her cropping will likely lead to further problems for her as she recovers from this surgery."
We're concerned about cropped dogs being imported
Ear cropping is a cruel practice that has been illegal in the UK, under the Animal Welfare Act, since 2006. It's 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 worryingly we're seeing more and more dogs arriving in our care having endured the barbaric procedure.
Our 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 cropped 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 - where it's 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 to 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 with 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 is 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 past six years, we've seen a 621% increase in the number of reports of ear cropping 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."
Raising money for Lexi's surgery
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.
Our Coventry and District branch has launched a special fundraising appeal to raise money for Lexi's specialist surgery and would welcome any support.