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Farmer five shock collar support

A SCOTTISH farmer has joined the debate over whether so called 'shock-collars' should be banned for being cruel.

A public consultation has been completed before a decision is taken on whether the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act will make it illegal for owners to use them.

John MacNiven, from St Andrews, Fife was quoted in the local media as saying they were the best way to stop his dog being run over by farm equipment.

After losing one farm dog, Mr MacNiven urged legislators not to ban the collars for the sake of his Border Collie Floss.

He said: ‘I have no doubt that if I didn't use that collar, Floss would not be alive today. When you run the tractor, it's making noise and you have no control over her. When she goes for the wheels you can't control her.

‘It makes a difference between life and death for the animals.’

Animal rights campaigners have been calling for the collars to be banned, claiming they are cruel.
Christine Grahame MSP, chair of Holyrood's cross-party group on animal welfare, has tried the shock collars on herself.

She said: ‘It really is awful. It's so very, very painful. It only lasted for me for a few seconds and sometimes these animals have it for about 10 seconds. There are other ways of training dogs than using this appalling method. I just find it barbaric.’

It is estimated that devices like shock-collars have been used as training aids by about 20,000 pet owners in Scotland.

The findings of a three-month consultation on their use will now be examined before the Animal Welfare Act is agreed next year. It could see them being banned.

Duncan McNair, of the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association, said: ‘There are hundreds of dog owners who are absolutely convinced that their dog would be dead if they had not used this collar.’

A similar move to ban shock collars in Wales is being undertaken by the Welsh Assembly, who recently launched a consultation process. There are no plans to ban shock collars in England, as DEFRA have said that they do not accept the scientific evidence that the devices are cruel.
In May of this year, Sarah McCarthy-Fry MP for Portsmouth North saw the defeat of the second reading of her Private Members Bill that proposed a ban on electric shock training devices in England.

The Kennel Club has campaigned against the use of shock collars for several months and worked closely with Ms McCarthy-Fry on her Bill. The KC has said that it will back a possible future Private Members Bill to ban their use in England.