Animal Welfare Groups Accuse Ministers Of U-Turn Over Shock Collars

23 November 2018, 12:22 | Updated: 23 November 2018, 12:34

Shock Collar

Dog welfare organisations have criticised the Scottish Government for failing to introduce an "effective and prompt ban" on electric shock collars for dogs.

A statement signed by the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust, Battersea Cat and Dogs Home and the Animal Behaviour and Training Council, among others, accuses the government of u-turning on its promised ban.

A cross-party group of MSPs has backed a call by the SNP's Christine Grahame accusing the government of "backtracking".

The parliamentary motion notes calls for the devices to be "banned unequivocally".

In January, the Scottish Government said the devices will be outlawed through guidance issued under existing Holyrood legislation.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said after listening to concerns she had "decided to take steps to effectively and promptly ban" the use of the collars in Scotland.

She added: "Causing pain to dogs by inappropriate training methods is clearly completely unacceptable and I want there to be no doubt that painful or unpleasant training for dogs will not be tolerated."

She issued ministerial guidance for courts in cases involving the use of shock collars on dogs but last month her cabinet colleague Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon clarified the devices have not been banned.

In response to a parliamentary question by Labour's Colin Smyth, Ms Gougeon stated the "the use of electronic training aids is not prohibited".

She added the guidance issued means causing unnecessary suffering through the use of the collars may be an offence dependent on user knowledge.

In a statement, the dog welfare organisations said: "We are of the view that the Scottish Government has not delivered on its promise of introducing an effective and prompt ban on aversive training devices in Scotland.

"We no longer believe the guidance will be used effectively to educate dog owners that using unpleasant (aversive) stimuli or physical punishment, including electric shock collars to train a dog is not appropriate.

"We now call on the Scottish Government to introduce regulations to ban all aversive training devices as a priority."

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, who started a petition calling for a ban which gained 20,000 signatures, said he is disappointed by the government's "backtracking".

He said: "The voices of thousands who have expressed a wish to ban electric shock collars should not be ignored.

"It is time for the Scottish Government to explain exactly their position as they are flip flopping on this issue while dogs suffer from these harmful devices."

The UK Government announced plans in August to ban electronic shock collars for pets.