Joey Essex has been criticised after sharing a picture of his pet dog which appears to have its ears cropped.
Showing off his new Dobermann puppy on his social media accounts in a now deleted post, the dog's ears were sticking up, a hallmark of cropping, which is illegal in the UK.
Cropping is when a dog's outer ears are removed or surgically altered with sections of the ear cut off. Despite being banned in the UK since 2006, the process is popular for cosmetic reasons.
Animal rights campaigner Jordan Shelley criticised the reality star on social media, saying: "Joey Essex is another idiot celebrity normalising ear cropping, an illegal abhorrent mutilation, to his many followers by getting a butchered dog."
He added: "Shame you felt the need to get a dog with mutilated ears. Ear cropping is a brutal illegal cosmetic mutilation. What a terrible example to be setting further normalising this abhorrent illegal procedure to all your following!"
Anyone else going to call @JoeyEssex_ out for animal abuse or are we all just brushing off goofy lovable Joey?
What he’s done is so utterly horrific and will be the reason hundreds of animals are abused by morons wanting to emulate this trashy lifestyle
Thank you @ThatVetSean pic.twitter.com/nLXP9dKN0v
— Meredith Hepner 💙 (@MeredithHepner) August 30, 2022
Essex was also criticised by TV vet Sean McCormack who said: "What a disappointing development and quite frankly a kick in the teeth to all of us who have been tirelessly campaigning to stop the trend, practice and importation of dogs who have been mutilated for fashion by undergoing ear cropping.
"Joey Essex is a public figure with lots of influence who has previously worked with Battersea to highlight the plight of dogs in shelters needing homes."
He also criticised Essex's hypocrisy over animal welfare: "When it was brought to his attention a year or so ago that he was congratulating another celeb for importing a cropped or mutilated dog from abroad to get around the fact it is illegal in the UK on welfare grounds he was at pains to condemn the cruel practice and say he was an absolute dog welfare advocate.
"So why is he now parading around his poor new puppy that has had its ears cut off so it looks tough as a so called 'protection dog'."
The 32-year-old Essex initially came to fame after appearing on The Only Way is Essex from 2011 to 2013. Since then he has appeared in a number of other reality shows and hosted a documentary about mental health.
Watch below: Joey Essex proves how long he can hold his breath