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Kennel Club reiterates ‘call to action’ over shock collars

THE KENNEL Club is again urging dog owners to bring pressure to bear on DEFRA to ban the sale and use of electric shock collars under the Animal Welfare Bill.

In a statement issued this week the KC expresses its dismay at DEFRA’s apparent unwillingness to listen to the genuine and widespread concern felt by the world of dogs over the use of these controversial and, many feel, cruel and unnecessary devices.

The press release states:

‘Once again, the Kennel Club cannot understand WHY Defra will not take notice of the increasing political pressure to ban remote control electric shock collars and anti-bark electric shock collars under the Animal Welfare Bill.

‘Not only has Defra been receiving copies of letters from MP’s constituents highlighting their concerns about electric shock collars, the petition (otherwise known as an Early Day Motion) tabled by Tony Baldry MP has now attracted signatures from 88 MPs.

‘It clearly states that they: condemn the sale and use of remote control electric shock collars to train and control dogs; consider the use of such devices to be cruel and unnecessary; understand that alternative positive training methods produce dogs which are trained more quickly and reliably with no potential for abuse or cruelty; recognise that because dogs are highly reactive to learning experiences and have a strong bond with humans that their natural instincts can be utilised to train them easily; and call upon the Government to introduce a complete ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars as part of the Animal Welfare Bill.

‘Now Defra needs to come under public pressure to ban the sale and use of remote control electric shock collars and anti-bark collars. The Kennel Club is extremely grateful to those readers, who have already taken the time to write to their MPs to deplore the use of the collars. This is especially important given that the issue of electric shock collars is likely to be voted on when the Bill returns to the Commons before the summer recess.

‘However Defra is receiving post from dog trainers who employ unnecessarily aversive training methods to address the effect and not the root cause of behavioural problems. Since they promote to Defra that training dogs through fear and pain works and does not harm the dogs, it is becoming increasingly important that Defra also receives correspondence directly from concerned members of the public.

‘Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said : "Defra is under pressure from MPs to ban the sale and use of electric shock collars. Defra has also been presented with independent, conclusive and scientific research papers proving the long term negative effects that the use of these training devices have on dogs. Defra now needs to hear from the dog world about why it should impose a total ban on the sale and use of electric shock collars".

‘Readers can write to Defra at: Animal Welfare Bill Team, The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,1a Page Street, London, SW1P 4PQ.

‘Since there is also likely to be a free vote on electric shock collars when it returns to the House of Commons, you should copy this letter to your MP and send it to the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA’

The KC’s suggested form of words follows although it asks that readers compose their own version if at all possible:

Dear Animal Welfare Bill Team,

I am writing to urge you to completely ban the sale and use of electric shock collars in the Animal Welfare Bill regulations.

Electric shock collars worn around the neck of a dog have essentially one function, which is to deliver a painful shock to a dog. This trains a dog to respond out of fear of further punishment - having received a shock when it does not perform what is asked of it rather than through a natural willingness to obey.

Shock collars are readily available by mail order, via retail outlets and on the Internet. There is no restriction on them being sold to unscrupulous people, or people with little or no experience in training. Anyone can place it on a dog and administer 'correctional' treatment. I do not view this as acceptable.

Pain and fear are not humane methods by which to educate or train any creature, especially since other, positive, training tools and methods produce dogs that are trained quickly, easily and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain, or potential damage to the relationship between dog and handler. These include recall training, clicker training and using retractable leads. With these alternatives available, there is no justification for using electric shock collars, which are designed to cause a dog pain in order to alter behaviour.

Peer reviewed research conducted by independent institutions and dating back for decades, has proved that using electric stimulus on animals has a long-term negative effect.

Please completely ban the sale and use of these products, as I do not see how they have any place in a civilised society.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely