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Shock collars: KC calls for outright UK ban


WOULD YOU believe it if you knew that dogs all over the UK, have electric shocks put into their necks by their owners, and even dog trainers?

Well unfortunately its true – manufacturers and some trainers are advocating the use of remote controlled electric collars including dog trainers in Cumbria, according to data collected by the Kennel Club as part of their ongoing campaign to ban electric shock collars.

Shock collars work by emitting painful shocks to the dog, increasing in pain level as the dog continues its ‘undesirable’ behaviour and by pressing a button, the shock is transmitted to the dog’s neck via two large prongs. They train a dog to respond out of fear of further punishment rather than through a natural willingness to obey through positive training.

Electric shock collars are readily available to anyone – with or without the knowledge of the harm they can do. And the marketing of shock collars can easily convince people that they are a fast ‘cure-all’ to every behavioural problem.

Those that have seen the affect of electric shock collars know of the damage they cause both in the short and long term.

Two examples found by the KC of the damage caused to dogs, both physically and mentally by the use of the devices show the stark facts.

Anjelica Steinker, of the Courteous Canine Dog School and Doggie Gym said; ‘A friend of mine rescued a Jack Russell Terrier after a professional dog trainer had used an electric shock collar to help house train her.

When the terrier came to my friend she was very fearful of urinating and constantly checked herself, presumably for urine. It took several months to housetrain this dog because of all the fear that was caused by the shock collar’.

Pat Miller wrote for The Whole-Dog-Journal.com;

‘Rufus was a typical adolescent Labrador Retriever: Rufus’s energy was a bit much for the younger children. A pet supply store (sold) a product that promised to solve problems with the push of a button. One rainy afternoon, a neighbour, sent his son out to the pen to take Rufus for a walk. Rufus wouldn’t let the boy get near him. He said Rufus had this green colour round his neck under the training collar. I carefully removed the collar to find a huge gaping hole in Rufus’ neck, under one of the prongs’.

Dr Susan Benson of the Animal Medical Centre in Preston, Idaho who treated Rufus’ injuries claimed: ‘This was one of the worst electrical burns I have seen other than dogs who have had contact with high power lines.’

Shock collars fail to address underlying behavioural problems and can give rise to more serious problems. Confusion over where the painful shock has come from means the dog is more likely to associate it with something in its immediate environment than with its behaviour at the time. This can make attacks on owners, other dogs and animals more likely.

Independent scientific research confirms that the collars are both ‘painful and frightening’, and influence the dog’s well being negatively in the long term. The Kennel Club wants to see a complete ban on their sale and use. However, earlier this year DEFRA ruled out a ban, saying that it did not accept the scientific research offered in evidence.

Many critics pointed to this being an example of how choosy the Government could be on what it classes as sound scientific evidence. It was quite happy to accept evidence that tail docking was cruel, and caused pain to puppies, but not to accept the evidence relating to pain and in jury caused by shock collars.

Local MP Timothy Farron, Liberal Democrat whose constituency is Westmorland and Lonsdale, has already signed the Early Day Mention supporting the Kennel Club call for a ban.

He is clearly opposed to the collars and says; ‘Pain and fear are not humane methods by which to train a dog. There are positive training tools and methods which train dogs quickly, easily and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain, or damage. These include recall training, clicker training and retractable leads. With these alternatives available, there is no justification for electric shock collars.’

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary concluded, ‘There is strong political support for a ban from across the parties, and the UK, with Wales and Scotland having made commitments to consider a complete ban. However more MPs are needed to sign the EDM to keep up the momentum of the campaign, until a ban is brought into place in England.’

The KC has also been fighting the issue through the pages of a Cumbrian newspaper, where local dog trainer Ingrid Grayling publicly stated that shock collars were invaluable in ‘curing’ dogs from chase sheep.

Caroline Kisko commented in a latter to the newspaper: ‘We would like to make absolutely clear that shock collars do cause pain and if they didn’t, they simply wouldn’t work. It follows then that they are pain inducing and, we believe, therefore a cruel way to ‘train’ dogs.

‘Dogs should be trained using positive reward based methods and we have spoken to many trainers and behaviourists who have said that it is relatively simple to train dogs around livestock.
‘If, as stated by Ingrid Grayling, owners do not have the ‘time, commitment and knowledge’ to train their dog correctly or are in any doubt regarding their dog’s behaviour around livestock, then they should quite simply keep their dog on a lead, and use a retractable lead if necessary, that will give the dog freedom and the owner peace of mind that their dog is 100 per cent under control.’

• The Kennel Club has produced a standard letter to help people contact and encourage their MPs to sign the early day motion. This letter should be sent to their local MP’s office and/or Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw MP.

• The KC has also produced a guide on how to lobby MPs about electric shock collars. To receive a copy of the letter and the guide, please contact Laura on 020 7518 1020 or laura.vallance@thekennelclub.org.uk or visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk and click on press office / campaigns and schemes.