Thank you for contacting me about the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill and the cropping of dogs' ears.
The UK has a strong reputation with regards its position on animal welfare and Ministers are building on our world-leading standards with ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will introduce landmark protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals.
As you know, the Bill will strengthen domestic animal welfare protection for kept animals by delivering the Government’s manifesto commitments to end the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, crack down on puppy smuggling, and ban the keeping of primates as pets. It will also update the Zoo Licensing Act, introduce a new pet abduction offence, and reform legislation covering to tackle livestock worrying. On the issue of puppy smuggling, the Bill reduces the number of pet dogs, cats and ferrets that can be moved under the pet travel rules that apply to non-commercial movements. This will prevent unscrupulous traders from exploiting pet travel rules, making it harder to import large numbers of puppies into Great Britain.
The Bill includes a power to make regulations about the importation of pet animals into Great Britain for the purpose of promoting animal welfare. This will enable Ministers to go further in the future and explore measures such as increasing the minimum age that dogs can be brought into Great Britain, prohibiting the importation of heavily pregnant dams as well as banning the importing of dogs which have been subjected to low welfare practices such as ear cropping or tail docking as you mentioned in your email to me.
The practice of non-exempted mutilations such as cropping dogs' ears is abhorrent and has rightly been banned in the UK for 15 years. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is already an offence in England and Wales to carry out a non-exempted mutilation (such as where it is not carried out for medical purposes) including the cropping of a dog's ears. Under the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021, anyone convicted of such an offence face being sent to prison for up to five years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both.
The Kept Animals Bill was carried over into this parliamentary session following the Queen’s Speech in May 2022. Ministers recognise that there is strong support for the Bill across Parliament and I am assured that it will return to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows and I look forward to supporting the Bill through Parliament to ensure that the appalling way that Henry was treated becomes a thing of the past.
Thank you again for contacting me.