THE NEWLY appointed Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development, Jane Davidson, has reaffirmed the Welsh Assembly government’s commitment to banning the use of electric shock collars in Wales.
After meeting with representatives from the Kennel Club on Tuesday 3rd July, the Minister confirmed her support for the proposal, saying: ‘The Assembly government remains committed to banning the use of electric shock training devices in Wales and will be issuing a consultation later this year with a view to legislation in early 2008.’
The Kennel Club has long been campaigning for the use of electric shock collars to be completely banned across the UK. Electric shock collars train a dog to respond out of fear of further punishment, having received a ‘static shock’ when it does not perform what is asked of it, rather than from a natural willingness to obey.
In order for the collar to serve effectively as a training tool, the dog has to perceive the shock as painful - moreover if the dog does not respond the punishment has to escalate, creating further potential for abuse.
The Kennel Club also met with leading spokespeople for animal welfare from various political parties including Lorraine Barrett AM (Labour), Mick Bates AM (Liberal Democrat) and Brynle Williams AM (Conservative) and received a positive response from other AMs including Nick Bourne, Andrew R. T. Davis, Mark Isherwood and Nick Ramsay. A statement of opinion has also been tabled in the assembly and has been signed by AMs from all political parties in Wales.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: ‘The Kennel Club is delighted that as a result of its ongoing lobbying efforts the Welsh Minister is keen to issue a consultation with a view to banning the use of electric shock collars in Wales, particularly as DEFRA has made no such commitment for a UK-wide ban and at present is unlikely to do so. We are also extremely pleased that AMs from all parties are supportive of our aim.’
As reported previously, a Private Member’s Bill put forward by Labour MP Sarah McCarthy-Fry (Portsmouth North) to ban electric shock training collars for dogs fell in the Westminster Parliament two months ago due to lack of Government support. Despite this, however, pace continues to gather in the world of politics for a ban on electric shock collars as the Kennel Club’s campaign continues to call for a ban on these devices in England, particularly as plans are advanced for a total ban on their use in Scotland and Wales.
The second reading of the Bill gained further strong cross party support for a ban in England from Bob Spink MP (Conservative), Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrats), and Sadiq Kahn MP (Labour) amongst others.
Sarah McCarthy Fry later said: ‘It became increasingly clear during my speech that there is widespread support across much of the House, not just on the Labour benches, for this legislation. Whilst the Minister didn’t believe legislation was appropriate at this stage, I do hope DEFRA will see fit to consult on this issue in the same way the Welsh and Scottish devolved institutions will be doing. I’d like to thank the Kennel Club which has worked tirelessly on this issue.’
However, despite much backbench support, like many other Private Members Bills it was defeated because it does not yet have the support of the Government. DEFRA had previously issued a statement saying that it effectively did not trust evidence put forward by dog training experts about the collars being harmful to dogs.