SSPCA investigators are flagging up a “worrying increase” in the number of American Bully dogs subjected to illegal ear cropping.
They say the horrific injuries are entirely due to a fad for owning these dogs as status pets, and the charity is appealing for anyone who knows of this form of mutilation taking place to get in touch.
A spokesman said: “In the UK, any surgical procedure carried out for purely aesthetic purposes is illegal. “Ear cropping is one of these procedures.
“A common misconception is that these dogs are bred for fighting but that is not the case.
“The intensive breeding of these dogs in order to create the barrel-chested, heavily muscled, wide gaited bully of today has led to them becoming a sought after breed which can be sold for in excess of £10,000.
“New breeders are popping up across Scotland and carrying out these backyard-butcher type procedures in order to increase the value of these pups.”
SSPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “It feels like we’ve taken a huge step backwards - we had hoped that this horrific trend had ceased.
“These procedures are of no benefit to the dog and are carried out for purely selfish reasons.
“It’s a real shame that a number of people won’t even realise that these animals aren’t supposed to look like this, and don’t understand the amount of pain and suffering these dogs go through for the sake of a status symbol.”
Vet practitioners are bound by law and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Code of Conduct and as such are unable to carry out these illegal procedures.
This means dogs are being subjected to makeshift surgical instruments without proper and safe anaesthetics and therefore pain relief.
The risk of infection afterwards is also high, with the potential for complex health issues as a result of improper materials, a lack of sanitation, knowledge and correct post-op procedures.
One vet summed up the practice as “cosmetic, painful and needless mutilation”.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the SSPCA on its confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.