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Call for ban in Scotland
- New report concludes shock collars are ‘inhumane and unnecessary’

A LEADING Scottish animal charity has released a report calling on the Scottish Executive to ban the sale and use of electric shock collars for dogs in Scotland.

The report was published by Advocates For Animals and is entitled ‘Why Electric Shock Collars For Dogs Should Be Banned’. The hard-hitting report examines the scientific evidence and views of relevant organisations and concludes that electric shock collars cause pain and distress, are ‘…unsafe, unnecessary, and should be prohibited.’

As previously reported, an electric shock collar is intended for training or controlling a dog by delivering a painful electric shock to the dog’s neck in order to change the dog’s behaviour. Shock collars can also be used to discourage or punish barking or for confinement. They are currently widely available on the internet and in some pet shops, although many experts believed they should be confined to the use of professional dog trainers only.

A spokesperson for Advocates For Animals said: ‘These devices are capable, in the wrong hands, of effortlessly inflicting suffering and punishment at the touch of a button. Inevitably, shock collars can get into the hands of owners or trainers who may be inexperienced, careless, impatient, angry, frustrated or even sadistic.

‘People who are the least willing to put time and effort into training their dogs and developing an understanding of dog behaviour are likely to be those who are most likely to resort to the use of shock collars as a ‘quick fix’ solution. In addition, all shock collar systems can malfunction and cause uncontrolled shocks and burn injuries.

‘The experience of dog behaviour experts and scientific studies provide clear evidence that the use of shock collars is unsafe, unnecessary, inhumane and can lead to long-term behaviour problems for dogs.’

The call for a ban on electric shock collars in Scotland is supported by a wide range of animal welfare, dog training and veterinary organisations including the Scottish SSPCA, The Scottish Kennel Club, The Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Blue Cross and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

The use of shock collars has already been prohibited by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the rest of the UK and the UK Armed Forces. A ban is also supported by respected individuals such as Jan Fennel, author of ‘The Dog Listener’, canine expert Dr Roger Mugford, companion animal behaviourist Kendal Shepherd, and star of BBC’s Vets in Practice, Emma Milne.

Maureen Macmillan MS3, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development Committee, has laid a Motion to the Scottish Parliament and has tabled an Amendment for Stage 3 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill, due to be heard on Wednesday of this week (31 May), calling for a ban.

Macmillan commented: ‘I believe electronic collars for training are unnecessary and cruel. The army and police, for example, now no longer use them for these reasons. I want the Minister to take note of the existing academic research on the effects of these collars and consider how we can prohibit their use.’

Ross Minett, Director of Advocates for Animals, adds: ‘The evidence is clear that electric shock collars for dogs are inhumane and unnecessary. A ban on their sale and use is supported by a wide range of animal welfare organisations, dog training organisations and animal behaviourists.

We urge the Scottish Executive to state its intention to introduce legislation under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill to ban the sale and use of electric shock collars in Scotland.’

Electric shock collars for training are already banned or severely restricted under animal protection legislation in Denmark, most states/territories of Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, and a ban is underway in Austria.