Puppies found in semi-comatose state after having ears cruelly cropped

Three men have been jailed after illegally cropping puppies’ ears and leaving them to suffer.

Staffordshire Police found Alexander David Johnson, Ryan Woodward and Michael Nolan along with six puppies at a property in Hanley on November 10, 2020.


Three of the puppies had had their ears cropped and were still in a semi-comatose state as a result of anaesthesia given to them prior to the procedure being conducted.

The police contacted the RSPCA, who took on the investigation.

Alexander David Johnson, of Elmsmere Road, Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent, faced one offence that he carried out the cropping of ears on three puppies.

Ryan Woodward, Forrest Court, Union Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, faced one offence that he did aid, abet, counsel or procure Alexander David Johnson to carry out a prohibited procedure of cropping the ears of three puppies.

Michael Nolan, Victoria Road, Carlisle, Cumbria, faced one offence in that he was responsible for a puppy and another person carried out a prohibited procedure namely the cropping of ears on the animal and you permitted that happen or failed to take such steps.


All three men pleaded guilty and sentencing took place on Wednesday.

At sentencing, Johnson was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison and ordered to pay £775 costs. Woodward was jailed for 19 weeks and ordered to pay £775 costs. And Nolan was jailed for 14 weeks and ordered to pay £400 costs.

All three were disqualified from keeping dogs – Johnson for life and Woodward and Nolan for 15 years – and all were served with deprivation orders meaning they have 21 days to rehome any dogs still in their care.

In a written witness statement, provided to the court by RSPCA inspector Jenny Bethel, she said she collected the puppies – who had been seized by police on November 10 2020 – and took them to a veterinary practice.

She noted that three of the six puppies – who were bully-type puppies and were around eight-10 weeks old – had their ears cropped and three had their ears intact.

All puppies were examined and given a health check, vaccinations and were microchipped, with the three which had their ears cropped the night before were given pain relief and antibiotics.

The three ear cropped pups went on to have their ears operated on and restitched at RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital.

Inspector Bethel continued to investigate the incident with police handing over seized items from the night of the offence.

There were two pairs of black latex gloves and bloodied kitchen roll tissue all in separate sealed evidence bags and there was a black men’s cosmetic bag containing multiple and various veterinary objects.

“The bag contained syringes, needles, surgical scissors and blades, three empty 10mg bottles of Sedivet for horses, one empty bottle of ketamine, empty vaccination bottles, pliers and a staple gun with blood on it,” said inspector Bethel.

There also was a brown envelope filled with items.

“Inside the envelope was a black rucksack. Inside the rucksack there were surgical masks, an opened box of latex gloves, syringes, needles, stuture, stitching with a bloodied needle attached, panadol tablets, surgical tape, tie wraps, marker pen, nail clippers and an empty rabies vaccination bottle,” said inspector Bethel.

In an independent expert veterinary report, which was presented to the court, it was stated that the cropping of the ears of the puppies would have caused them to suffer unnecessarily even though they were anaesthetized during the actual procedure and they suffered considerable amounts of unnecessary pain and distress after the procedure.

None of the defendants claimed ownership of five of the puppies who were signed over to the RSPCA and transferred to The Cheshire (Altrincham) Branch of the RSPCA – where they were found in loving homes. The sixth dog was signed over to the RSPCA a few months later and was also found a forever home.

They have been named by their new owners as Diesel, Moose, Jed, Vera, Lyla and Peanut.

After sentencing inspector Bethel said: “Over the months I monitored the puppies and took them for vaccinations and vet visits.

“I would like to thank The Cheshire (Altrincham) Branch of the RSPCA for providing wonderful foster homes on such short notice so they didn’t have to spend any time in kennels.


“All six puppies have grown into beautiful dogs, are a credit to their fosterers and have gone on to find amazing forever homes.”

PC Rebecca Tyler, of Stoke North Local Policing Team, said: “This is something that my colleagues and I will remember for the rest of our careers. We are glad that the puppies recovered and have found loving homes.”