Vets call for action after BBC Panorama investigation
“This investigation is a wake-up call to government to take urgent action to protect the welfare of these animals." – Justine Shotton
The programme revealed links between organised crime and dog breeding.

The BVA has responded to a new hard-hitting investigation into the breeding and selling dogs with extreme features, calling on both the Government and the public to do more to tackle the problem of irresponsible and dangerous dealers.

In the documentary, broadcast on Monday 23 January, reporter Sam Poling went undercover to expose the criminal connections and cruel practices that have become part of the trade in breeds such as American and French bulldogs. Some unscrupulous dealers are encouraging harmful and illegal fashions, such as ear cropping, as well as having links to criminal gangs keen to exploit the popularity of the breeds to launder money.

“Sadly, this BBC investigation doesn’t come as a surprise to vets and animal welfare organisations,” said Justine Shotton, senior vice president of the BVA. “BVA has long raised concerns about irresponsible breeding and its links to unregulated canine fertility clinics and illegal ear cropping.

“This investigation is a wake-up call to government to take urgent action to protect the welfare of these animals by introducing regulation for fertility clinics as well as banning the importation of dogs with cropped ears through the Kept Animals Bill. Such a ban would close the legal loophole that allows this trend to continue despite the procedure being illegal in the UK.”

As well as calling on the Government to act, BVA has also urged the public to play their part in stopping irresponsible dog breeding.

The organisation is keen for people to think about who they are buying dogs from. “Responsible pet ownership begins even before you get a puppy, so we’d encourage anyone looking to buy a dog to pick health over looks or the latest fashion and always speak to your vet for advice,” said Shotton. “Use the free Puppy Contact to help guide you on the questions you should be asking a breeder, to ensure you’re getting a healthy, happy puppy from a responsible source.”

To help close the loophole that still allows dogs with cropped ears to be imported, BVA is encouraging members of the public to contact their local MP and ask them to ensure that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is passed and made law. A template letter is available.