Electric shock dog collar ban in Scotland means Westminster must follow suit

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement yesterday (24th January) that it intends to ban electric shock dog collars, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare, the Kennel Club, says that it is critical that Westminster now does the same.

The remarkable U-turn saw the Scottish Government announce a complete ban on the use of electric shock dog collars in Scotland instead of regulated continuation of their use, and now the Kennel Club is urging Westminster to follow suit and ban the sale and use of these devices to protect dog welfare across the UK.

Electric shock collars are worn around a dog’s neck and work by emitting an electric shock to a dog via a remote control.  As stated by the Scottish Government, under the current devolution arrangements, controls on the import of goods, including electronic devices such as electric shock collars, is a matter reserved for the UK Government. Unless the importation of such devices is prohibited UK-wide, any possible prohibition on sale in Scotland alone could be circumvented through on-line purchases or buying from suppliers in other countries.

Although these devices are marketed as harmless, and range in price between £10 and over £200, shock collars train dogs out of fear and pain, rather than a natural willingness to obey. They cause physical pain to dogs and can cause anxiety-related behaviours and re-directed aggression. Extensive research has proved that training a dog with a shock collar is harmful and unnecessary, given the vast array of positive dog training tools and techniques available, which is why the devices are banned not only in Wales, but in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Germany and in some territories of Australia, including New South Wales and Southern Australia.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Now is the time for the government in Westminster to step up and show their commitment to dog welfare.  Both Wales and Scotland are now committed to a total ban on the use of electric shock collars and it would be an extremely negative message to send about the importance of dog welfare if Westminster did not follow suit.

“We were delighted with the announcement made by Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in the Scottish Government that she is banning the use of shock collars in Scotland. Both the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly have listened to the Kennel Club, other dog welfare organisations, vets, dog trainers and behaviourists and academics who have conducted extensive research on these devices, all of whom agree a complete ban is the only acceptable way forward. It seems ironic that at a time when the Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill is being considered in Westminster, that the abhorrent use of shock collars, which have been proven to cause both physical and physiological harm to dogs, is allowed to continue.

“We hope that Westminster will prove their commitment to dog welfare and announce intentions for a ban on the sale and use of these cruel devices in the near future.”

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