Electric collar allegations untrue, say clubs
A MEMBER of two Shutzhund Clubs alleged last week that he has been appalled by the nature of the training he has witnessed being carried out.
Jordon Sinclair, who was a member of the White Rose Shutzhund club, West Yorkshire and South Cheshire Shutzhund club, wrote to complain to the GSD league and the Kennel Club about the training methods used at these clubs as he felt they are “totally brutal and barbaric”. He also reported having seen the club members at both clubs regularly use electric collars, often on the highest setting, leaving dogs lying screaming on the ground in great pain. He says this is against the GSD League rules but, because he is not a member of the GSD League, they are not prepared to investigate his claims.
Having received the letter of complaint from Mr Sinclair, wrote to the German Shepherd Dog League and the Kennel Club, requesting they look into the training methods and use of electric collars at the White Rose Shutzhund club. In the letter sent by the Kennel Club secretary, Caroline Kisko, it was pointed out that the KC is against the use of shock collars, and is leading a campaign to get them banned “based on scientific and expert evidence that these collars comprise the welfare of dogs”. In concluding the letter to the GSD League, Mrs Kisko requested that the GSD League look into “the matter as a priority, and that you will be able to confirm that as a Kennel Club registered society, you are not in favour of the use of electric shock collars on your training grounds”.
The Kennel Club does not allow people belonging to clubs registered with them to use electric collars during training on club grounds or when competing. According to Mr Sinclair the club members get around this by claiming that the training takes place from 1pm to 2pm at these clubs and ends officially at 2pm, therefore what they do after that is on their own time and so they are free to use the electric collars and pinch collars (also called prong collars), where metal prongs on the inner surface of the collar. Sometimes a dog would have both the electric collar and the prong collar on its neck at the same time. Mr Sinclair told Our Dogs that some of the champion dog handlers for the last two years are members of these clubs and according to Mr Sinclair “are using electric collars”.
On the South Cheshire web site a dog is clearly seen wearing a prong collar. There seems to be confusion over whether these collars are legal. Neither the prong or electric collars are illegal, anyone can use one. However a person using a collar in a way detrimental to the dog’s welfare could be faced with legal proceedings in a private prosecution, and the person or organisation bringing the prosecution to court would have to prove that the dog’s welfare was compromised. It would then be down to the court to decide if there was a case but it would only be on an individual basis.
Mary Wellwood, Secretary of the White Rose club told Our Dogs that Mr Sinclair tried to bring a private prosecution against a club member, Mr James, but the prosecution was thrown out as the alleged welfare issue was reported to Manchester and not the correct jurisdiction, adding that the claims made were completely untrue and that any kind of harsh training is not carried out at either club. Mr James told Our Dogs that on the day the alleged cruelty took place Mr Sinclair was not in his company, and for some reason Mr Sinclair did not go to the court until the 21st July. Mr James was surprised when he received the court papers to discover that Mr Sinclair was not in fact Mr Jordon Sinclair but was Mr Kevin Wayne Sinclair.
At this time DeFRA say that prong collars and electric collars have not been tested thoroughly in a scientific way by them and therefore it is not possible to say whether the use of either collar is detrimental to a dogs well being. A spokesman said that they are carrying out tests at the moment to try to find out if they do compromise the welfare of a dog.
A blanket ban cannot be brought into force unless DeFRA prove to their own satisfaction that a dog would suffer in some way by the use of these collars, and this would not be before 2010. When asked if the scientifically proven fact that these collars compromise a dogs welfare, as the Kennel Club and RSPCA claim, the DeFRA spokesman said that any organisation can claim they have proof but as far as DeFRA are concerned it is “not properly conducted scientific proof that this is so, simply because an organisation which wants the collars banned says it is”.
Mr Sinclair joined the two clubs when he bought a GSD for training as a competitor in shutzhund competition. He was a member of the clubs for a short time, but his dog never progressed. Mrs Wellwood told Our Dogs that members of the club thought that Mr Sinclair never made any progress because he suffers from arthritis and they felt that he was not practising the training between club meetings. After being a member for a few months Mr Sinclair sold his dog to a member of White Rose club, then left the club. About six months later he rejoined and, although not owning a dog, decided to become a helper at the two clubs. Mrs Wellwood told Our Dogs that rather than watch and learn more about the shutzhund sport which is very demanding Mr Sinclair would spend a lot of time sitting in the club cabin chatting and giggling with members.
Mr Sinclair claims to have filmed the dogs being trained and took pictures of dogs in prong collars and electric collars with their handlers. A blog site which Mr Sinclair set up talks about an apparent dispute over the dog he sold with regard to breeding from it and training at the two clubs. Following this he then contacted the GSD League asking them to investigate. He told Our Dogs that when he received a letter from the GSD League saying they would not investigate the matter, he contacted Huddersfield RSPCA, the Kennel Club and Our Dogs.
On Tuesday 29th July Mr Sinclair claims to have received threats on his land line and one threat was sent to his voice mail message service on his mobile phone, which he has passed on to Our Dogs and the police. This voice mail message was available via link on his blog site and had taken place earlier than originally claimed. Mr Sinclair claimed the threats and abusive calls (which are of racist and of an anti-homosexual nature) include death threats. Mr James and Mrs Wellwood both said they did not understand why Mr Sinclair was making these claims and saying that a club member was behind these threats if they were real, as Mr Sinclair had confided to them both while at the club.
Mr Sinclair also told Our Dogs he has a video of the dogs being trained with the electric collars on, but it has been claimed by some who have seen the video that it is not obvious that the collars are being used. Another ex-member of the clubs, who Mr Sinclair says wishes to remain anonymous at this time, wrote an email to Mr Sinclair confirming that he had left after being horrified at the treatment of the dogs and the harsh training methods used.
Mr Richard James, Head Trainer of the White Rose Club, told Our Dogs that he is more than happy for anybody to attend the club at any time and watch club members training their dogs. Mrs Wellwood commented that club members feel that the constant claims made by Mr Sinclair are being made in order to break up the club and give them a bad reputation. Mr James further added that he hoped that the investigation by the GSD League, and KC will finally lay to rest these allegations once and for all.