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Scottish government launches shock collar consultation

THE SCOTTISH Executive has issued a Consultation Document on the sale and use of electronic training aids such as electric shock collars for dogs and cats.

Using new powers under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 , it would be possible for Scottish Ministers to regulate the use of such collars by requiring users or sellers to be licensed or registered.

In 2000 the UK Police removed electric collars from its list of approved dog training equipment. The British Veterinary Association, (BVA) does not support the use of shock collars.

The Scottish consultation wants reasoned views on whether any controls should be placed on electric shock or static pulse collars, whether their use, sale, distribution and possession should be banned, restricted or whether they should continue to be allowed to be freely available.

In its submission to the Parliament, the Electronic Collar Manufacturers’ Association (ECMA) states that it was established to promote the safe and responsible use of electronic pet training equipment. Setting out safety and equipment useage guidelines, the ECMA says it is committed to the safety of companion animals and to the responsible use of its members' products.

The Scottish Animal charity, Advocates for Animals has produced a report ‘WHY ELECTRIC SHOCK COLLARS FOR DOGS SHOULD BE BANNED’ which examines the scientific evidence and views of relevant organisations. According to the report, the experience of dog behaviour experts and scientific studies has provided clear evidence that the use of shock collars is unsafe, unnecessary, inhumane and can lead to long-term behaviour problems in dogs.

Shock collars are capable of effortlessly inflicting punishment at the touch of a button. Inevitably, they can get into the hands of owners or trainers who may be inexperienced, careless, impatient, frustrated or angry. In addition, a shock collar system can malfunction and cause uncontrolled shocks and burn injuries.

Libby Anderson, Political Director of Advocates for Animals, says: ‘We are pleased that the Scottish Government has launched this consultation on the future of electric shock collars. We will of course be calling for a total ban on their sale, possession and use. A ban on their sale and use is supported by a wide range of animal welfare organisations, dog training organisations and animal behaviourists.

‘We accept that owners want to keep their pets safe and some believe that shock collars offer a humane solution to problems. But they should base training not on pain but on positive reinforcement, backed up if necessary by help from a pet behaviourist or even physical barriers. Electric collars are sometimes used as an alternative to closing the gate – which is not a good reason for causing any amount of pain to an animal.’

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

Advocates for Animals’ report on Shock Collars can be found at: