The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has teamed up with online retailers Amazon and eBay to crackdown on products for sale on their sites by third-party sellers that are advertised for use during illegal procedures that compromise the welfare of dogs and cats.
BVA contacted both retailers after being made aware of products intended for lamb castration, a procedure that is legal in the UK, being marketed for tail docking of puppies by several sellers across both websites.
Research also uncovered at least one DIY kit being marketed on eBay UK for the removal of dew claws in kittens.
Tail docking of dogs and dew claw removal in kittens are considered to be mutilations in England and Wales under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and the equivalent Acts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Barring some exemptions in both cases, such as removal by a vet for medical reasons or for certain breeds of working dogs, there are no circumstances in which it is legal for non-vets to undertake this procedure.
Both Amazon and eBay have taken swift action to remove the flagged listings and put additional preventive measures in place to weed out similar ads in the future.
Their action follows steps taken by both retailers at the start of this year to similarly remove DIY ear cropping kits from sale across both websites, following an urgent letter from BVA.
BVA President Malcolm Morley said: “We took action after being made aware by members about the false advertising of legal products for the illegal purpose of puppy tail docking. Our research also found listings for cat dew claw removal kits being sold by retailers via eBay.
“I’d encourage vets and members of the public to raise concerns with retailers if they come across similar listings online in the future.
“Where such functionality exists, they may also use the websites’ online reporting mechanism to log a complaint.”
Tail docking is an outdated practice that involves cutting or crushing muscle, nerves, and bone in a dog’s tail for cosmetic reasons or to prevent possible injury.
It has historically been done without an anaesthetic in puppies under five days old. Evidence shows that puppies suffer unnecessary pain as a result and are deprived of an important form of canine expression in later life.
In addition, poorly performed docking can cause chronic pain.
Dew claws are toes located along the inside of the paw, higher up from the other four toes. Its removal is an interference with the sensitive tissue of an animal and as such is considered a mutilation under the Animal Welfare Act.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon is relied upon by thousands of pet owners every day in the UK and we do not take this responsibility lightly.
“We require all products in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent non-compliant products from being listed.”
Murray Lambell, eBay UK General Manager, said: “We have put automatic block filters in place, which aim to prevent these products making it onto site in the first place, and our security teams perform regular checks to ensure nothing slips through the net.”
BVA’s policy position on dog tail docking is available online.