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February 22, 2023

Sick puppies lead to illegal ear-cropping, tail-docking operation run from Feltonville basement, PSPCA says

The two dogs with infected surgical wounds were abandoned at a Philly veterinary hospital earlier this month; 12 more dogs were rescued

Investigations Animal Cruelty
PSPCA Ear Cropping Provided Image/Pennsylvania SPCA

The Pennsylvania SPCA seized 12 dogs from two facilities in Philadelphia earlier this month as part of an investigation into an illegal ear-cropping and tail-docking operation. Two other puppies, pictured above, were abandoned at BluePearl Emergency Hospital in critical condition. The investigation is ongoing and charges have not been filed.

Two dying puppies dropped off at a Philadelphia animal hospital led to a Pennsylvania SPCA investigation that rescued 12 more dogs from two city properties, at one of which animals were undergoing illegal ear-cropping and tail-docking procedures.

On Feb. 8, two 8-week-old cane corso dogs were brought into BluePearl Pet Hospital, at 1114 Front St., in critical condition, investigators said. The puppies — since named Fred and Ethel by the PSPCA — were lethargic and cold to the touch. Veterinarians, who examined the dogs determined their ears had recently been cropped, and someone had attempted to attempted dock their tails.

The dogs' wounds from the procedures had become infected, which caused the puppies to have septic shock. One of the dogs went into cardiac arrest shortly after getting to the hospital and needed to be resuscitated, PSPCA officers said.

After receiving a tip from a veterinarian, investigators identified the owner of the puppies and seized seven more from his residence on the 4500 block of Princeton Avenue in Tacony. Officials said, the dogs' owner, who likely was breeding the canines, admitted he had paid to have their ears cropped and tails docked, and the dogs taken from his property were described as having red, crusted ears, scabbed tails and acting lethargically.

The dogs ears were cropped and tails docked by a person operating out the basement of the home in about five miles away on the 4700 block of B Street in Feltonville,  he said. There, five more dogs were seized, officials said, adding that upon searching home they learned one dog had died shortly after having surgery. Also, no post-operative medication was provided to any of the other puppies.

Puppies PSPCA OperationProvided Image/Pennsylvania SPCA

Fred arrived at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Philly on Feb. 8, someone recently having cropped his ears and attempted to have docked his tail.

Pennsylvania law prohibits anyone other than a licensed veterinarian from performing these procedures. Ear-cropping and tail-docking are elective cosmetic surgeries, and they can be painful and dangerous to dogs, especially, if done incorrectly. 

"An owner taking his entire litter of puppies to some random person's basement to perform surgery just to achieve some specific look and then watch one of them die while the remaining pups continue to suffer is hard to imagine," Nicole Wilson, the PSPCA's director of animal law enforcement and shelter operations, said in a release. "Bringing this owner and the butcher, who cut their ears and tails, to justice is what drives this organization."

Puppies PSPCA Ear-CroppingProvided Image/Pennsylvania SPCA

Ethel was abandoned at BluePearl Pet Hospital on Feb. 8. She was lethargic and minimally responsive at the time.

Among the dogs found at the Feltonville property was one bulldog suffering from a vulvar prolapse after having recently given birth. Veterinarians have since operated on that dog.

Of the 14 canines involved in the investigation, ownership of the the puppies left at the hospital and the bulldog who had recently given birth has been turned over to the PSPCA. The other 11 dogs will remain in the care of PSPCA until any court cases court associated with this investigation are resolved. 

The investigation into the breeder and the person performing the illegal surgeries is ongoing, and officials said criminal charges are likely. Anyone with information about this case can contact the PSPCA's Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-7722.