Plymouth man jailed after puppies' ears were cropped for commercial gain

Plymouth man jailed after puppies' ears were cropped for commercial gain

A Plymouth dog breeder, who was responsible for the cropping of puppies' ears to make more money, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Jamie James, was sentenced to 12-months in prison and a 20-year disqualification from keeping animals. He admitted three animal welfare offences following an investigation and prosecution by the RSPCA.

His father Adrian James, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work and was also disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years. Both men appeared before Plymouth Magistrates' Court on July 22.

RSPCA officers visited in September 2021, after police obtained a warrant to search for puppies with illegally cropped ears. 

During the visit, a female grey merle pocket bully with cropped ears and a tan and white male pocket bully with cropped ears were discovered.

RSPCA Inspector Pippa Boyd, who helped the investigation for the animal charity, noted that bleeding indicated that the cropping had been done recently and was not fully healed.

Dog passports were provided by the men, but these did not contain the necessary vaccination stamps or details to support that the dogs had been legally imported. The date of birth also appeared to have been doctored on the passports to show a different date.

Evidence gathered by the charity from phone records showed dogs were being sold for commercial gain through Gumtree, with a business logo shared between the two men. Whatsapp messages and videos shared between father and son also proved the dogs had been born under their care and their ears had been cropped.

In messages sent to his father on August 8, 2021, Jamie James shared videos of puppies with freshly cropped ears - just hours after sharing clips showing the same dogs with their ears intact. Earlier messages showed he had travelled to Gloucestershire with the dogs before returning to Plymouth that day.

Additional messages see the two men discussing the dogs' ears and showing a tool to remove staples. There were also discussions about giving the dogs a substance to allow them to remove the staples, with comments and videos showing the effect the substance had on the dogs and a picture showing a staple that had been removed.

They also discuss pictures for online selling sites and how much had been made from the sale of other dogs.

In another conversation between the two men, Jamie James is seen saying: 

You get top money if you get their ears done. That's what I'm going to do.

Jamie James, was also ordered to pay a £156 victim surcharge and £600 costs. There's to be no appeal for his 20-year ban to be lifted for 15 years. He was told the case was so serious that only custody could be justified because he had the puppies' ears mutilated for commercial gain and took a leading role in selling and organising cropping ears. 

Adrian James is not able to apply for the ban to be lifted for seven years. He must also pay a £95 victim surcharge and £600 costs.

In mitigation, it was said he played a lesser part. He accepted there'd been a conversation about the cropping of the ears, as the puppies would fetch more money when sold. Adrian had sought sedation medication from the vet but gave no explanation to as why he was buying it.

RSPCA Inspector Jim Farr, who led the cropping investigation, said after the hearing: 

Ear cropping is a painful process in which part or all of the ear is removed for cosmetic reasons. It is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act

Ear cropping has been illegal in the UK for a long time, for good reason. It's a barbaric, painful procedure that's carried out purely to achieve a 'desired look' and to make a dog appear tougher. However, removing a dog's ears can have serious, lifelong implications for that dog.

The court heard that the dogs, are still suffering as result and will now be rehomed by the charity.

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