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Lord to address BVA forum in favour of electric shock collars


DELEGATES TO the British Veterinary Association’s upcoming Animal Welfare Forum will be shocked in more ways than one when one guest speaker will address them on the benefits of electric shock collars for dogs.

At the forum, which is due be held on Tuesday 20 May, Lord Duncan McNair of Gleniffer will put the case for the use of electric shock dog collars to assembled vets and animal welfare and government delegates. Lord McNair, who is described as a ‘humanitarian’ will be speaking on behalf of the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association, (ECMA) and will argue that the collars are a useful, even necessary addition to a dog trainer's arsenal, arming him with a harmless weapon of last resort.

The ECMA asserts that when electric shock collars are used at low levels, by experienced users following the instructions on the box, their effect is totally harmless and humane. The ECMA was established to promote the safe and responsible use of such equipment. Campaigners who oppose the sale of such devices argue that the manufacturers simply want to sell as many units as they can and are unlikely to want to see the use of such gadgets restricted to just a few thousand licensed dog trainers. Campaigners fear that with unrestricted sale, electric shock collars could easily fall into the wrong hands with terrible welfare implications for dogs.
As reported previously, the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies have consulted widely on this issue with a number of animal welfare agencies including the Kennel Club and are bringing forward legislation to ban the sale and use of shock collars. However, the Westminster Parliament has strongly opposed any such restrictions on the sale and use of shock collars in England and Wales and voted down a Private Members Bill which sought to introduce restrictions on the devices.

Unfounded

DEFRA, on behalf of the Labour Government, have stated that they believe the science stating that shock collars are cruel to be ‘unfounded and unproven’.

A spokesperson for the Kennel Club emphasised the KC’s opposition to the use of shock collars, saying: ‘The Kennel Club has long been campaigning for the use of electric shock collars to be completely banned across the UK. Animal Behaviourist Carolyn Menteith will be representing the Kennel Club at the BVA Animal Welfare Conference to highlight how electric shock collars train a dog to respond out of fear of further punishment rather than from a natural willingness to obey.
‘The Kennel Club feels 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 then the punishment has to escalate, creating further potential for abuse.’

Meanwhile, Titch White, the sitting President of the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association for 2008 defended Lord McNair’s presentation. Speaking exclusively to OUR DOGS this Tuesday, US-based Mr White said: ‘Lord McNair's presentation is another example of ECMA placing itself into the public forum. ECMA, as a group, are always willing to stand up and discuss our products and their applications because we believe our products simply save dogs lives.

‘Lord McNair's presentation is another example of ECMA placing itself into the public forum. We as a group are always willing to stand up and discuss our products and their applications because we believe our products simply save dog's lives.

‘Lord McNair will present the safe, effective and animal friendly approach of our products and our standards of safety and design . Our hope is that people will actually listen openly with the possibility of accepting new ideas and understandings.

‘As the forum is run by Vets with the goal of, "improving the welfare of all animals through veterinary science, education and debate.". ECMA could not be more delighted to take part. ECMA members design all of their products using science and technology to improve the welfare and relationship between companion animals and their owners.

Rhetoric

‘The fact that this is a veterinary forum should allow the discussion to move from emotion and rhetoric to one of science and fact. In this regard I notice that you persist in using the term "electric shock collar" to describe our products. This in itself is a very good example of the emotional bias displayed by those who would have our products banned. They are electronic training collars, some using static impulse and others using spray or sonic impulses. In the context of reward-based training they are humane and effective.’

Nadine White, on behalf of the British Veterinary Association explained the BVA’s decision to invite Lord McNair to speak, saying: ‘The BVA Animal Welfare Foundation’s forthcoming Discussion Forum provides a platform for debate on a number of deliberately contentious issues relating to animal welfare. In order to stimulate an informed discussion it is necessary to present often diverse and opposing views.

‘All of the speakers will be presenting their own opinions on each of the subjects and will not be representing the position of the BVA’s Animal Welfare Foundation or the policies of the BVA. We look forward to hearing the views of all speakers and the discussion that follows, on an agenda that promises to be extremely interesting.’

OUR DOGS was unable to make contact with Lord McNair who is an hereditary peer. He no longer sits in the House of Lords following the 1999 reform when he, along with several dozen other ‘hereditaries’, were displaced from the Upper House by then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s parliamentary reforms.

Titch White also invited OUR DOGS to meet with him to discuss the association, their products and where they fit into ‘the greater companion animal market.’ Mr White added:’ In an attempt to gather complete journalistic perspective I feel it would be in OUR DOGS Newspaper's best interest to get the whole picture.’

OUR DOGS is currently considering Mr White’s invitation.