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Three jailed for ‘barbaric’ puppy tail docking

Three dog owners have been jailed for three months each after 11 puppies died in a “gross and barbaric” tail-docking operation.

Lloyd Earlington, David Hunkins and Julie Ward inflicted enormous cruelty on the Rottweiler puppies without giving them any anaesthetic, Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard.

The agony was so excruciating that two of the litter died almost immediately, while another three were in such severe shock they had to be put down. The rest passed away within three weeks.

The puppies’ spinal cords were left exposed by the operation, while the two main arteries had been severed in many cases, rendering the wounds virtually impossible to suture.

Earlington, 35, of Watson Road, Alum Rock, Birmingham, had admitted 11 counts of animal cruelty at a previous hearing. He had also admitted one count of practising unregistered veterinary surgery, for which he received an £1,100 fine or an alternative of an extra day in custody. Hunkins, 33, and mother-of-four Ward, 37, of Harts Road, Washwood Heath, Birmingham, both admitted 11 counts each of animal cruelty.

The court heard how a Rottweiler bitch owned by Ward and a dog of the same breed belonging to Hunkins had produced the litter in December last year. The couple believed that docking the tails of the puppies would make them more saleable but wanted to avoid veterinary fees for the operation.

Hunkins approached Earlington in a bookmakers, having heard that he had performed the operation in the past, who agreed to carry out the operation for £70 - cheaper than the estimated £120 for a professional operation.

On December 12, Earlington arrived at Hunkins’ and Ward’s home with supplies of Stanley knife blades and mixed a supposed painkiller solution. Ward and Hunkins passed each puppy through to Earlington in the utility room where he sliced their tails off.

Nick Sutton, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said that after Earlington left, the couple realised the operation had gone wrong and rushed all eleven puppies to a local vet wrapped in a bloody shirt. Mr Sutton said the vet who saw the litter described the operation as “barbaric surgery”.

Mark Lewis, defending Earlington, said the father-of-three was “naive” to think he could have carried out the operation without harming the animals. Sukhdev Garcha, representing the other two defendants, said the couple had tried their best to save the litter as soon as they realised the operation had gone wrong.