Devices already illegal in Wales and may also be outlawed in Scotland
A ban on so-called pet “shock collars” is to be imposed in England, under plans confirmed by the government today.
Ministers have announced proposals to ban the devices, used to control pets, which are already banned in Wales. Scotland has already announced it is following suit.
It comes after a concerted campaign by animal rights campaigners. While they are designed to control and train dogs and cats, they have been attacked as cruel for giving animals an electric shock when they misbehave. The devices are usually controlled via a remote control.
Some devices also squirt noxious sprays, which campaigners warn can disrupt a dog’s acute sense of smell. Others can emit a sound painful to a dog’s hearing.
The clampdown is the latest attempt by the Conservatives to boost its animal welfare credentials, with Theresa May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, said to be supporting the drive, spearheaded by environment secretary Michael Gove.
It comes after many Tories said that their manifesto commitment to hold a vote on bringing back foxhunting and failing to back an ivory ban seriously hurt the party’s performance. The latest animal-friendly policies include plans to fit CCTV in slaughterhouses and a clampdown on puppy farming.
Gove said shock collars were “punitive devices” that “can cause harm and suffering, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to our pets”.
“We are a nation of animal lovers,” he said. “Organisations and MPs have campaigned against the use of shock collars passionately and we are listening to their concerns. We are now proposing to ban the use of electric shock collars to improve the welfare of animals.”
Campaigners have warned that the collars are not only cruel, but often counterproductive. They say such treatment can worsen underlying behavioural and health problems.
Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, which runs the Crufts dog show, said: “Training a dog with an electric shock collar causes physical and psychological harm and is never acceptable, especially given the vast array of positive training methods available. We are delighted that the government has listened to the Kennel Club’s long standing campaign to ban electric shock collars and hope that a ban on their use is imposed swiftly.
“Shock collars are often marketed as a harmless quick-fix solution. The truth is that far from providing a solution, they can easily cause more problems than they seek to fix.”
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “These cruel devices are used to train and control cats and dogs using pain and fear. Not only is this unacceptable but they are also unnecessary to achieve long-term behavioural change.”
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