'Real ban' needed to stop 'cruel' electric shock dog collars

A cross-party group of MSPs warned dogs in Scotland continue to be harmed due to a lack of legislation.

Introduce ‘real ban’ on electric shock dog collars, MSPs tell Scottish Government iStock

The Scottish Government must implement a “real ban” on shock dog collars, a cross-party group of MSPs has said.

A letter, sent by Tory MSP Maurice Golden and signed by members of every party in Holyrood, warned rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon that the current guidance is ineffective.

The Scottish Government has said the use of the controversial devices in Scotland is “effectively” banned.

But critics said because the ban is in the form of guidance the practice continues to this day.

“Shock collars are brutal and cruel and there is no need for them.”

Maurice Golden, Scottish Conservatives

Now MSPs from across the SNP, Tories, Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats have called for the practice to be prohibited through regulations.

They say this would allow those using shock collars to be prosecuted.

The letter reads: “Electric shock collars continue to be used as even though a ban was referred to, there were no supporting regulations, only guidance and as a result, even though the Scottish SPCA received 47 reports to its animal helpline regarding electric shock collars being used on dogs from 2019 to 2021, there was nothing that could be done to bring forward a prosecution.”

The letter called for immediate action to tackle the issue.

It said: “We now believe the time is right for the Government to commit to its animal welfare commitment to ban electric shock dog collars by way of Regulations, rather than ineffective guidance.”

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay, Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Beatrice Wishart, Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw and SNP MSP Jenni Minto are among the politicians to have singed the letter.

Golden, who is leading the calls, said the Scottish Government must act on the issue “as a matter of urgency”.

He said: “Electric dog collars have been found to be cruel and cause significant pain and harm to dogs.

“What’s more, they are often ineffective and prevent the developing of far better and kinder training methods.

“It’s rare for MSPs from all parties to be united on something, so that shows just how important this is.

“It shouldn’t be too difficult for the Scottish Government to change this guidance into regulation, and that would at least mean a real ban on these collars.”

“Shock collars are brutal and cruel and there is no need for them. Nobody should be inflicting unnecessary fear or pain on their dogs.

Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman, who signed the letter, said: “As long as these devices are available there will be people who will buy them.

“That is why guidance alone is not good enough. We have to get them off the shelves.

“The Welsh government has righty taken steps to ban their use, and I hope that Scotland will do the same.”

Labour MSP and signatory Carol Mochan added: “Shock collars are barbaric and there is very little research to even suggest they are effective.

“I fully support any efforts to ban them and would encourage the public to avoid using these devices altogether.”

Scottish SPCA head of innovation and strategic relations, Gilly Mendes Ferreira backed the calls.

She said: “Electric shock collars can have negative welfare implications, causing physical pain and long-term fear. We have been rehabilitating dogs for decades without using methods that cause distress or discomfort.

“We hope that the Scottish Government will consider banning these collars as they have no place in modern society.”

Shock dog collars have been described as 'barbaric'.SSPCA

Mark Beazley, chief executive at The Kennel Club, added: “The Scottish Government claimed to ‘effectively’ ban shock collars five years ago by condemning the use of them in updated guidance.

“However, as no regulations were brought forward, they are continuing to be used without prosecution, so these need to be introduced urgently in order to support the guidance and show that training dogs through pain and fear will not be tolerated in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland is a nation of pet lovers and it is vital that those who have pets practice responsible ownership to ensure the highest standards of welfare.

“Dog training that includes unpleasant stimuli or physical punishment may cause unacceptable pain, suffering and distress. Causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal is a criminal offence.

“The use of electronic dog training collars is currently being investigated by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission [SAWC].

“We expect the results of this investigation to be published later this year and will consider any recommendation put forward by the SAWC.”

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