The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has teamed up with online retailers Amazon and eBay to crack down on products for sale on their sites by third-party sellers that are used during illegal veterinary procedures.

The BVA contacted both retailers after being made aware of products intended for lamb castration, a procedure that is legal in the UK, being marketed by several sellers across both websites for tail docking of puppies.

Research released today (Monday, October 24) also uncovered at least one do-it-yourself (DIY) kit being marketed on eBay UK for the removal of dew claws in kittens.

Tail docking of dogs and dew claw removal in kittens are considered to be mutilations in England and Wales under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and the equivalent Acts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Barring some exemptions in both cases, such as the removal of the tail or the dew claw of a cat by a vet for medical reasons or for certain breeds of working dogs, there are no circumstances in which it is legal for non-vets to undertake this procedure.

Both Amazon and eBay have taken swift action to remove the flagged listings and put additional preventive measures in place to weed out similar ads in the future.

Their action follows steps taken by both retailers at the start of this year to similarly remove DIY ear-cropping kits from sale across both websites, following an urgent letter from the BVA.

BVA president Malcolm Morley said: “We took action after being made aware by members about the false advertising of legal products for the illegal purpose of puppy tail docking.

“We’re pleased to see swift and positive action by the two major retailers and will continue to work collaboratively with them to strengthen checks on products, or their marketing, that can harm animal welfare.

“I’d encourage vets and members of the public to raise concerns with retailers if they come across similar listings online in the future. Where such functionality exists, they may also use the websites’ online reporting mechanism to log a complaint,” he said.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are proud to work in partnership with the British Veterinary Association. Amazon is relied upon by thousands of pet owners every day in the UK and we do not take this responsibility lightly.

“We require all products in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent non-compliant products from being listed.

“We will continue to work with the BVA to promote animal welfare and will take swift action against any bad actors who try and circumvent our policies.”

Murray Lambell, eBay UK general manager, added: “We are pleased that our proactive work is preventing the sale of these harmful items.

“We have put automatic block filters in place, which aim to prevent these products making it onto site in the first place, and our security teams perform regular checks to ensure nothing slips through the net.

“We will also continue to work closely with the BVA to make sure that we stop the sale of any product that may harm any animal,” he said.