Poor craftsmanship was responsible for that, NOT the commissioner.
There is NO excuse or reason why a fursuit head cannot be picked up by the ear! In fact, you should be able to pick it up by any part of the head. The ear, jaw, cheek, muzzle, etc. A good maker will build their heads to be as durable as possible. One thing we always keep in mind is that yes, fursuits are works of art, but people won't always treat them that way. Which means you need to build these things like football helmets! Build them so they can withstand being carried around by the nose, or squished in a suitcase, or thrown across the room, even.
To illustrate what we mean, here's a video of one of our WIP commissions being picked up by the ear (gasp! I know). We placed the head on the scale to show that there is about 3.5 pounds of additional weight pulling the head down because we left the mannequin head inside of it. I wanted to show that no amount of "ear carrying" would cause the ears of our suits to tear. EVER.
Our suits are built to last and withstand a lot. I shook the hell out of that head in the video and twisted it and pulled on it and everything. No tears, no damage! Now, I'm not trying to encourage our previous commissioners to go run their suit heads over with their cars or anything to prove me wrong, but rest assured, these babies can handle being toted around by any part of them, lol.
So, if you're thinking about starting to take fursuit head commissions, keep durability in mind and be sure your heads can handle a "stress test" like this! Be sure you can yank and pull and man-handle your work, because you never know what your customer is going to put it through once they receive it. :)