A couple have been disqualified from keeping dogs for five years after it was found they illegally cropped the puppies’ ears. The breeders, who amassed tens of thousands of followers online, boasted they were the “UK’s leading XL bully kennels” – but it was their social media presence that later got them convicted.
Rory Canny, 30, and Sophie Louise Snell, 31, from Essex, who appear on the BullylairUK Instagram and YouTube channel, were sentenced in court on Friday. The pair bred dogs from their home in Clacton-on-Sea, and shared photos and videos of their “famous” pups with their 33,600 followers on social media.
The RSPCA noticed the pair posted photos of the puppies with the ears intact, and later advertised them with their ears cruelly chopped.
A warrant was executed and investigators found a number of dogs at their property, including several with cropped ears.
In her witness statement, RSPCA inspector Caroline Richardson, said: “An image posted on May 9, 2020, shows an entire litter of puppies with whole ears, on BullylairUK Instagram page, stating they are four weeks old.
“Bjorn is then posted about in December 2020 with cropped ears. Canny and Snell both confirmed in interview this is the same dog and that they bred the dog.”
The other three dogs, Tiger Lily, Nylah and Saber Tooth, were also posted online before and after their cropping.
The couple originally denied claims that they owned the dogs and told investigators that a ‘friend’ had cropped their ears, before changing their story and admitting to breeding them.
On October 28, both Canny and Snell were banned from keeping dogs for five years.
Canny was also given a 12-week prison sentence – suspended for 12 months – and Snell was given a curfew (9pm-6am) for six months.
Both were ordered to pay £600 in costs each while Snell was ordered to pay a £90 victim surcharge and Canny a £122 victim surcharge.
The couple told the court that they’d since rehomed all of the dogs so they were not deprived of ownership of any, but must not own or care for any further dogs during their five-year ban.
Speaking after sentencing, inspector Richardson said: “Ear cropping is an horrific practice which has absolutely no benefits for the dogs and can cause them lifelong health, behavioural and social problems.
“This is done purely for cosmetic purposes and sadly can lead to puppies being sold for much more money – but we’d urge the public and anyone looking to buy a puppy to remember that this is an illegal procedure which has hugely negative impacts for the dogs themselves.”
Ear cropping is illegal in England and Wales, under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.