What do you think? Norwich MP backs ban on electric shock dog collars

Norwich MP Simon Wright Norwich MP Simon Wright

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
5:03 PM

Animal-loving MPs have called for a ban on electric shock collars that are used to discipline dogs.

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Conservative MP Dr Matthew Offord said there was sufficient evidence to show that the device had a negative impact on the welfare of some canines, and that there were a number of alternatives that did not resort to administering electric shocks to get them to behave.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright, who sponsored the bill said there were thought to be around 300,000 electric shock dog collars in the UK. Animal welfare organisations, including the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club, are calling for a ban on their use.

Mr Wright said: “I’m very pleased to be supporting this Bill. Electric shock collars cause real pain to dogs, and there is evidence that they don’t necessarily lead to the behaviour change that is intended.

“In fact, there is evidence to show that shock collars can be the cause of behaviour problems as a result of dogs’ ‘fight or flight’ instincts. Dogs have been known to respond by acting aggressively towards their owner or towards other dogs that may be present when the shock is applied.

“There are much kinder and more effective training methods available to dog owners which can have a more positive influence over a dog’s behaviour.”

Mr Offord said: “In reality, dogs exercised near livestock should always be kept on leads, it’s as simple as that.

“There should be no need for an electric shock collar. There are other positive training tools and methods that can produce dogs that are trained just as quickly and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain or potential damage to the relationship between dog and handler. Police dogs and armed forces’ dogs are never trained using electric shock devices.”

The Hendon MP said that in answer to a written parliamentary question on what progress had been made on banning the devices, he was told that two studies commissioned by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) would not justify an outright ban - although Wales banned them in 2010.

“Whilst acknowledging that electronic aides can have a negative impact on the welfare of some dogs, it was stated that the evidence from these studies is not strong enough to support a ban under the Animal Welfare Act 2006,” he said.

“The Government, therefore, has no plans to ban such devices in England, however Defra has asked the industry to draw up guidance for dog owners and traders advising how to use electronic dog collars properly and to develop a manufacturers’ charter to ensure any electronic collars on sale are made to high standards.”

Mr Offord, who is himself the owner of a Jack Russell called Maximus, added: “The first Defra project concluded that there was great variability at how electric shock collars are used on dogs and showed that owners tended to not read or follow the advice in the instruction guidance.

“The main conclusion was that there are significant negative welfare consequences for some of the dogs that are trained with electric dog collars in this study.

“The second study was designed to use electric shock collars on dogs by trained professionals according to industry standards. For this reason the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association was asked to design both the training protocol as well as recommend industry-trained professionals to take part in the study.

“The research project concluded that there was enough evidence both in the behaviour and psychological changes to argue that the use of electric shock collars, even by industry-trained professionals, still had a negative impact on dog welfare.

“Therefore, it remains the view of The Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust, the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA that electric shock collars are negative training devices which have a detrimental impact on dog welfare.”

Its second reading is scheduled for February 28, but it is unlikely to make further progress without Government support.

In 2011, Mr Offord invoked the Human Rights Act when he was told that he could not take his dog to work, despite pleas that it helped to take “the stress out of the day”.

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