Coventry dog show cancelled after BBC investigationon January 25, 2023 at 7:57 pm

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The American Bullies Kennel Club event is cancelled after undercover filming found welfare issues.

An American bully dog

An international dog show showcasing American bullies has been cancelled following a BBC investigation into the trading of the popular breed.

The American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC) UK event was due to be held at Coventry Building Society Arena on 11 February.

Footage gathered by undercover journalists at an ABKC UK show in Manchester showed hundreds of dogs paraded with cropped ears.

ABKC UK has not responded to the BBC’s questions.

The undercover filming aired on the Panorama and Disclosure programmes on Monday night.

Clipped ear on a puppy

Image source, RSPCA

Ear-cropping is where skin at the tops of dogs’ ears is cut off to reshape them – in the case of the American bully to make them stand more upright.

The practice is illegal in the UK under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006.

BBC journalists also secretly filmed in the house of Aaron Lee, an ABKC UK qualified judge, and discovered two 10-week-old American bully puppies in a cage with freshly cropped ears.

Mr Lee declined to comment.

Aaron Lee

Ian Muttitt, of the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit, reviewed the BBC’s footage of the ABKC UK show.

“It’s of real concern to the RSPCA to see dogs that have been mutilated, deliberately mutilated,” he told the programmes.

“It’s totally against the law, it’s illegal in the UK and it’s something that we’re really keen to address.”

The RSPCA and Scottish SPCA have seen incidents of ear-cropping rise in recent years.

Coventry CBS Arena

Image source, PA Media

Following the BBC programmes, Panorama: Dogs, Dealers and Organised Crime, and Disclosure: The Dog Dealers, a spokesperson for the venue in Coventry confirmed the event was now cancelled.

They said: “The arena has terminated its agreement with the organisers.”

American bullies at a dog show

Dr Samantha Gaines, from the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said the BBC’s findings raised “big and troubling question marks” over the welfare of dogs shown at previous events.

“Sadly, while ear cropping in the UK is illegal, a loophole still allows dogs to be imported with cropped ears,” she added.

“The UK government’s Kept Animals Bill will change that – and the findings from Panorama highlighting issues at events like this demonstrates why we need that legislation on the statute book as soon as possible.”

BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer

One key figure of the ABKC UK was found by the programme to be a convicted drugs trafficker from Scotland. He runs a breeding business featuring dogs with cropped ears.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said he welcomed the cancellation of the ABKC show.

“We would hope that any Scottish venues considering hosting one of these shows think carefully about whether the practices shown in the programme are ones that they want to be associated with,” he said.

Hundreds of people were expected to attend the Coventry show, which was to feature a range of breeds, including American bullies, bulldogs and cane corsos.

Refunds will now have to be provided to those who had already bought tickets.

ABKC UK has been approached by the BBC for a response.

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