The Kennel Club has written to DEFRA Minister Zac Goldsmith urging swift action to implement a ban on the use of so-called ‘shock’ collars in England, following a Court of Appeal judgment last week that dismissed an appeal by the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association and Petsafe.
The outcome of the legal challenge, which had previously delayed DEFRA from bringing about any legislative action, saw the appeal thrown out, as the Government presented evidence to demonstrate that electric shock collars can have a detrimental effect on the welfare of dogs.
But a spokesman for the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association disputed the evidence and said there was a ‘growing coalition’ in support of e-collars -including vets.
“The Kennel Club has failed to persuade the Scottish Government to ban e-collars and will face the same fate in England,” the ECMA said yesterday.
“That’s because the research from the University of Lincoln, which the Kennel Club relies on, has been dismissed by top academics as being ‘very seriously flawed’.
“The Kennel Club also knows that questions have been raised in Parliament as to why Lincoln’s researchers failed to disclose that they had been campaigning for a ban on e-collar training before they conducted their research.”
The association also said Defra faced the ‘problem’ of how to explain why Cabinet Minister Therese Coffey used an e-collar on her dog while she was still a Defra minister.
The Kennel Club described the ruling as a ‘crowning victory’ after the Government also announced a new Action Plan for Animal Welfare last week.
Dr Ed Hayes, head of public affairs at The Kennel Club, said: “This flagship plan aims to ensure the UK is leading the way in animal welfare and includes a ban on the use of electric shock collars, a move which has been long-campaigned for by The Kennel Club.
“The Court of Appeal judgment should be the final step on this hard-fought path to ban the use of electric shock collars in England and we have written to the Minister to urge that the strong words and commitments made are swiftly converted into action.
“We are delighted that the Government has committed to banning these unnecessary and cruel devices in their action plan; research demonstrates that a reward-based approach is more effective than delivering painful electric shocks when training dogs and leading veterinary bodies in the UK and Europe are aligned in their opposition against shock collars.
“We have been extensively lobbying the UK Government and the devolved administrations for years on this issue. The Government previously committed to banning these harmful devices however the legal challenge, which has now finally been brought to a close, had considerably delayed DEFRA from acting.
“There is now no room to lose the forward momentum in bringing about the ban.”
The Kennel Club claimed research funded by DEFRA demonstrated that electronic collars could have a detrimental effect on the welfare of dogs by causing them unnecessary harm and suffering, with 25% of dogs trained with shock collars showing signs of stress.
The use and sale of electric shock collars is currently NOT prohibited in England, with Wales being the only nation with regulations in place which prevent their use.
In Scotland, there is guidance against the use of electronic collars but The Kennel Club is lobbying Holyrood to explicitly ban them via legislation.
The Electonic Collar Manufacturers Association said there was ‘a growing coalition’ in favour of keeping e-collars as a key means of deterring dogs which have escaped from human control from attacking sheep.
They include vets, who wrote to The Times saying ‘that the welfare consequences of a ban on these collars would be appalling’. There is also an international scientific consensus behind the effectiveness of e-collars.
The National Sheep Association and the Countryside Alliance back them – as does Lord Botham, who wrote an article in the Telegraph this month in which he revealed that the Kennel Club had admitted that it had no evidence ‘of any intentional or unintentional misuse or abuse of any type of electronic training aids’.
“The Kennel Club is posturing on the issue. If it had an ounce of intellectual credibility it would be calling for the banning of livestock fencing, which are thousands of times more powerful than e-collars.”