England Bans Cruel Shock Collars

When you’re training your pet, most experts agree it’s most effective to reward good behavior rather than punish unwanted behavior. And anyone who cares about the welfare of animals knows that punishment by abuse is a definite no-no.

One form of abusive punishment is the shock collar or e-collar, which can zap a pet with up to 6,000 volts of electricity for as long as 11 painful seconds. Some collars spray noxious chemicals.

In the UK, Scotland and Wales have already banned these cruel devices. The government of England announced in August that it, too, will prohibit the use of collars that cause pets what Environment Secretary Michael Gove referred to in a press release as “harm and suffering.”

As the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) pointed out in the press release, in addition to hurting pets, there is evidence these collars can re-direct aggression or generate anxiety-based behavior in pets, thus making behavioral and health problems even worse.

Gove, naturally, is catching flak from shock collar manufacturers, who are complaining that he opposed a ban just six months ago. In a letter to the Royal Veterinary College, he suggested there was insufficient evidence to support outlawing the collars.

What changed his mind?

He hasn’t revealed the reason, but maybe popular opinion swayed him. In a 2014 survey by the Kennel Club, the vast majority of participants – 74 percent of them – supported a shock collar ban.

While England’s new shock collar ban is good news, it does not, unfortunately, prohibit the sale of these devices. And unlike in Scotland and Wales, the ban does not include electronic containment fences, aka invisible fences.

These “fences” are actually buried electrical wires that shock animals when they walk over them. Although the fences aren’t being banned, at least the statutory codes of practice in the Animal Welfare Act are being amended to ensure these fences are only used as a last resort and installed by professionals. Ian Gregory, a lobbyist for shock collar manufacturers as well as the—e-cigarette and fracking industries—opposed the  invisible fence ban.

Gregory, who according to BBC News believes the accounts of the pain inflicted by shock collars on pets is “exaggerated” by animal charities, was successful in convincing government officials that invisible fences have helped prevent cats from being struck and killed by cars.

Here in the United States, there are no federal laws banning shock collars or invisible fences. Animal welfare organizations, like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), would like the U.S. to follow England’s lead in prohibiting these devices.

“At best, they are unpleasant for your dog, and at worst, they may cause your dog to act aggressively and even bite you,” the HSUS says on its website

Take Action

More than 173,000 people signed a Care2 petition urging the UK to ban shock collars. These cruel devices should be banned in the United States as well. Please sign and share this petition urging Congress members to prohibit the sale and use of these cruel devices.

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You, too, can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Tony Alter/Flickr

117 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y6 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y6 days ago

thanks

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John J
John J6 days ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J6 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Richard B
Past Member 2 months ago

Thanks

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Past Member
Past Member 4 months ago

I was working at a nursing home where a pup was being trained to stay within the property by use of an oversize restraining collar. Enough people noticed the negative effects of that collar to suggest something better -- an electric fence that delivered a milder yet strong enough shock to keep the pup within the limits of the property.

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Georgina Elizab M
Georgina Elizab M5 months ago

petition signed in March. Good for U.K

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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