Iain pledges support to ban electric shock collars

Scotland and the UK’s largest dog welfare organisations and positive trainers came together with MSPs this week to urge the Scottish Government to ban the use of electric shock collars and other aversive training devices.

Iain Gray MSP attended a drop-in event at the Scottish Parliament to pledge his support to help encourage a ban on the use of these devices a year after the Scottish Government announced it would ban them, but instead only issued guidance on their use.

84% of people know that shock collars cause a dog pain, but the sad reality is that they are still readily available to buy at the click of a button. These torturous devices can send between 100 to 6000 Volts to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 terrifying seconds at a time.

Research shows that physical effects can include yelping, squealing, crouching, and physiological signs of distress in direct response to an electric shock. It’s not just shock collars – spray and sonic collars are also widely for sale.

Whilst the use of electronic shock collars is banned in Wales, and Westminster has confirmed it will introduce a ban on the use of these cruel devices in England, Scotland continues to avoid introducing a ban.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“I’m delighted to pledge my support calling for a ban on the use of electronic shock collars. These aversive training methods are outdated and cruel, and there is no need for them to be used when there are so many positive training methods available. This is a hugely important issue for dog welfare and I hope my support will help make a difference.”

Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said:

“We are disappointed that despite previously committing to effectively ban the use of electronic and other aversive training devices, a year later the Scottish Government has only issued guidance about their use. This means that Scotland’s pets are not protected from the negative impacts of using these cruel devices.

“This type of device is not only painful for a dog, it can have a serious negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. As well as distress at the time of use, dogs can develop anxiety and other problem behaviours as a longer-term consequence. We know from our Dog School classes that positive reinforcement training can give both dogs and their owners the skills they need to understand each other and build a rewarding life-long relationship.”

Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Director of Operations and Deputy to the CEO, said:

“Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home does not feel there is a place in today’s Scotland for the use of shock collars. This cruel and unnecessary practice has, for too long, caused pain and suffering to dogs across the country on a daily basis. We strongly believe that an outright ban on the use of shock collars is the only outcome that will ensure dogs are protected from the fear and misery these collars bring.”

Bob Elliot, OneKind Director said:

“Electric shock collars are cruel and unnecessary, and we believe it’s time for the Scottish Government to follow Wales by introducing a real ban on the use of shock collars to protect dogs from pain and suffering caused by their use. Not only are these collars cruel, but aversive training is ineffective which is why 91% of the dog trainers surveyed by OneKind in 2016 supported a shock collar ban.”

Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross, said:

“Electric shock collars are a serious animal welfare issue. They are outdated, cruel and have no place in modern dog training. Blue Cross strongly believes that the only effective way to train a dog is through positive reinforcement. We were pleased to come together with colleagues from across the animal welfare sector in Scotland today to ask MSPs to push the Scottish Government to introduce a complete ban on electronic shock devices and other aversive training methods.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said:

“We are disappointed that one year on from announcing that there would be an effective and prompt ban of electric shock collars in Scotland that such a ban has not come to fruition. Recently published guidance condoning shock collars is proving to be insufficient in deterring their use and we believe that given this, only a legislative ban will be effective. Scotland is now lagging behind the Welsh and Westminster Government’s in their approach to dealing with shock collars and we hope that this will soon be put right.”

Dee McIntosh, Director of Communications at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, said:

“Battersea believes banning the use of electronic shock collars on dogs is long overdue. It’s clear that positive reinforcement techniques, such as reward-based training, are far more effective at changing a dog’s behaviour without inflicting unnecessary pain. So when the Scottish Government reviews animal welfare legislation around electronic shock collars, we hope they’ll finally ban the use of these cruel devices.”