Joey Essex returns Doberman puppy after social backlash over its cropped ears

Joey Essex and a Doberman Pinscher
(Image credit: Instagram / Joey Essex)

UK reality TV star Joey Essex has found himself in hot water after a sharing a photo of his new puppy on social media. The young Doberman Pinscher, photographed by a swimming pool, was notable for its ears sticking up – a telltale sign of ear cropping.

Essex – best known for his starring role in The Only Way is Essex, a sort of British answer to Jersey Shore – had been planning to adopt the Dobie pup from a family friend, however his Instagram feed was swiftly inundated with angry replies from animal lovers.

A photo of Joey Essex's Doberman Pinscher

Joey Essex's now-deleted Instagram post (Image credit: Instagram / Joey Essex)

Ear cropping for aesthetic reasons has been illegal in the UK since 2006 (it can still be carried out by veterinarians for medical reasons). However some dog owners still choose to put their pups through this ordeal – often carried out without anesthetic – in which sections of the outer ears are cut off to make their ears point upwards and give them a more fierce appearance.

Following the backlash, Essex quickly deleted the offending post, and went on to announce that he had decided to return the dog as he's against animal cruelty. "I really wanted to give the dog a home," he told MailOnline, "I fell in love with him. But me taking him on as a pet would justify this cruel procedure, which will give the wrong message to my fans and followers."

That seems just a little unfair on the poor dog, which can't help what's been done to it. And many fans have been left angry at the way in which Essex has returned the dog to its previous owner – who, it would seem, had its ears cropped in the first place – and wiped all mention of it from social media. 

Vet and TV presenter Sean McCormack is among those calling on Essex to make a stronger statement on the issue and encourage his followers to sign a petition to bring in the Kept Animals Bill, which among other things would outlaw the import of dogs with cropped ears.

You can find the petition to take the Kept Animals Bill through Parliament and make it law here.

Jim McCauley

Jim is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler based in Bath, who last year adopted a pair of sibling rescue cats who turned out to be effectively feral, and has spent a lot of time since then trying to get them accustomed to people (some success) and each other (ongoing project).