Animal welfare organisations have welcomed the announcement by Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, to ban the use of electric shock collars in Scotland.

This comes as a huge victory for animal welfare, as only last November the Scottish government had ignored calls to ban these devices, announcing they would be going for “strict regulation” instead. The change of heart came as a relief to all of those who campaigned for an outright ban, arguing that regulation would be ineffective, expensive, and send the message that it is acceptable to train a dog through such means.

Major animal charities Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, as well as the Kennel Club, welcomed the ban.

This sends the clearest possible message to dog owners that, far from being a harmless quick fix training solution, shock collars cause long term physical and psychological harm to dogs and that training them in this manner is unacceptable

Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said, “This is an important step in the right direction for dog welfare as these devices use the principle of inhibiting behaviour through the application of an aversive event, which can have a serious negative impact on the welfare of dogs, and has also been associated with an increased occurrence of undesired behaviours.”

Lagging Behind

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said, “It is a huge relief to know that the Minister has taken on board the advice of leading academics, vets, behaviourists and welfare organisations and will ban the use of shock collars in Scotland. This sends the clearest possible message to dog owners that, far from being a harmless quick fix training solution, shock collars cause long term physical and psychological harm to dogs and that training them in this manner is unacceptable.

“We would be delighted to work with the Minister to ensure a ban is introduced at the earliest opportunity and are grateful to the many MSPs from all parties who have worked tirelessly to support our campaign, including Maurice Golden, Ben Macpherson, Christine Grahame and Colin Smyth. It is critical now that Westminster government does the right thing for dog welfare and follows Scotland’s ban with a ban of its own on the sale and use of electric shock collars.”

Blue Cross’ deputy chief executive, Steve Goody, has written an open letter to Michael Gove to “clarify Westminster’s position on a ban on electric shock collars for England following the decision by Scotland to outlaw the cruel and unnecessary devices”. He also warned that England is lagging behind on this serious animal welfare issue, as the use of shock collars has also been banned in Wales since 2010.

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