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Shock collars to be banned in Wales

THE WELSH Assembly last week declared that it would ban the use of electric shock collars in Wales, becoming the first British assembly to do so in the UK.

Lesley Griffiths, Wrexham AM (Assembly Member), was a leader of the Kennel Club campaign in the National Assembly last autumn in calling for a public consultation exercise to be held on instituting a ban in Wales.

Minister for Rural Affairs Elin Jones will now draw up details of the ban, the first of its kind in the UK, after announcing the news in the Assembly last week. Ms Jones also said that consideration would be given to whether the sale and possession of the collars should be included in the legislation.

Following the consultation process, the Welsh Assembly will be drafting detailed regulations under the Secondary Legislation provided for the Animal Welfare Act to introduce a ban on the use of the devices in Wales, which is expected to be voted into law without significant dissent.
Commenting on the minister's announcement, Lesley Griffiths said: ‘I am in complete agreement with this ban on these cruel shock devices. I have always believed there are more effective ways of assisting training and curing behavioural difficulties with dogs – ways that do not rely on this kind of cruelty.

‘At the end of last year, I asked Wrexham people to take part in the consultation on shock collars. I know the majority of people were in favour of a ban. Now, their voices have been heard on this issue and Wales will be leading the way on introducing legislation in the UK, to end this shameful practice.’

Plaid Cymru AM Janet Ryder also welcomed the move and said: ‘I am very pleased that my colleague Elin Jones has made this announcement. Plaid has worked very closely with the Kennel Club in recent months and am glad that their campaign appears to have paid off.

‘Dogs shouldn't have to suffer what at best is uncivilised treatment and at worst, cruel and unnecessarily painful treatment that can cause lasting emotional and physical damage to dogs.
‘I find it difficult to understand why any pet owner would want to use these methods anyway. I very much hope that the ban will extend to the use, sale and possession of these so-called training aids and related items like wireless leads and crates.’

The decision was warmly welcomed by the RSPCA. David Bowles, RSPCA Head of External Affairs said: ‘We are delighted with the stance that the Welsh Assembly Government has taken in banning the use of these instruments of cruelty and we hope that the Welsh Assembly will go as far as to ban the sale and possession.

‘This is the first major piece of legislation in Wales and England under the Animal Welfare Act and we fully support and congratulate the Minister on her commitment to improving the standards of animal welfare in Wales.’

Duncan McNair, Spokesman for The Electronic Collars Manufacturer’s Associations, (ECMA), ‘ECMA are both puzzled and disappointed by the decision to ban electronic training collars in Wales. The move denies the almost universal experience of owners of electronic training collars, who say that they bring enormous benefits to pet and owner and in many cases have saved animals lives.’
An announcement on shock collars is expected shortly in Scotland and ECMA is hopeful that the Scottish Government will adopt a more moderate approach based on ‘common sense and solid scientific research’.

There is no immediate prospect of such a ban in England however, despite the KC’s vigorous campaign and the attempt by Labour MP Anne Snelgrove (South Swindon) to secure a debate on the matter.

DEFRA, on behalf of the Westminster Labour Government stated previously: ‘While we are aware of a number of scientific studies on electric shock collars, DEFRA considers that to date those studies published in this area are not sufficiently robust and that the evidence base needs to be built on before consideration can be given to either banning or regulating their use. The government is not prepared to do this unless there is clear evidence that these devices in themselves are harmful to welfare’.