Animal welfare groups have welcomed the news that the Scottish Government plans to ban the use of electric shock collars.

Ministers last November said they would continue to allow the use of the devices but Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP has now announced that they will be banned.

The controversial use of electric shock collars as training devices has long been debated and the Welsh Assembly has already banned their use in Wales. Consultations had taken place with the Scottish Government and petitions were also tabled by prominent MSPs including Maurice Golden and Ben Macpherson which attracted 25,000.

Research shows shock collars are detrimental to a dog’s wellbeing and can cause anxiety-related behaviours, re-directed aggression and physical pain to dogs. Campaigners say the collars cause unnecessary suffering and there are plenty of non-harmful, more effective training methods to choose.

As well as Wales, the devices are also banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Germany and in some territories of Australia, but are still used in England.

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.”

Maurice Golden MSP for West Scotland said, “I am very pleased the Scottish Government is finally announcing a ban on the use of electric shock collars for dogs and that they have listened to our campaign and the 20,000 people who signed my petition.

“I’m glad that our campaigning has finally forced the SNP to see sense on this issue; that electric shock collars are harmful, and that the expert advice is clear that electrocuting dogs doesn’t help train them.

“I will therefore ensure that the Scottish Government sticks to its promise and imposes a total ban on these collars to further protect dogs from cruelty and unnecessary pain.”

The initial draft of the Proposed Guidance has already been drawn up. The proposed draft wording is:

“Training which includes unpleasant stimuli or physical punishment can cause pain, suffering and distress.

These techniques can compromise dog welfare, lead to aggressive responses and worsen the problems that they aim to address. Particular methods to avoid include: physical punishment, including the use of electronic collars to administer an electric shock; anti-bark collars, which may mask or aggravate underlying behavioural or health issues; and any device that squirts noxious oils or other chemicals that interfere with your dog’s acute sense of smell.

Causing unnecessary suffering is an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. This includes suffering caused by inappropriate training methods.”

Once finalised, the guidance may be used in future prosecutions.


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