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Electronic training collars

Published: 6 Nov 2015 10:57

Views sought on banning or regulating devices for cats and dogs.

A consultation on whether electronic training collars for cats and dogs should be regulated or banned in Scotland has been launched today (Friday November 6, 2015).

The Scottish Government is formally seeking views over the next 12 weeks on whether the technology should be subject to tighter controls, or even prohibited altogether.

It comes after a number of requests for electric shock and vibration collars for animals to be banned.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, who has lead responsibility for animal health and welfare, said:

"Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and protecting the welfare of our pets is of paramount importance. Over the past while, I have heard strong arguments for a ban on electronic training aids on the grounds of animal welfare.

"As well as valid concerns about the potential for misuse of some these devices, I have also been made aware of situations where these training aids, when used properly, have benefited animal welfare.

"This consultation seeks views on whether electronic aids in Scotland should be subject to tighter controls – like those in New Zealand and Victoria, Australia - or whether the devices should be banned outright, as has happened in other countries such as Wales, Denmark and Germany.

"I urge everyone in Scotland with an interest in the welfare of dogs and cats to have their say before this consultation closes on January 29, 2016. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind dog owners to ensure their animal is microchipped before it becomes compulsory next year."

Notes to editors

The consultation - Potential controls or prohibition of electronic training aids in Scotland - runs from November 6, 2015 to January 29, 2016 and can be accessed via https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/animal-welfare/electronic-training-aids

Views are being sought on a number of different electronic training aids that are currently available for use in Scotland. Such devices are mainly used for remote training, anti-bark and containment (also known as electric boundary or 'freedom' fence). As well as the much debated static pulse collars (which pass an electric current between two terminals that make contact with the skin of the animal), the consultation also asks about collars that are operated electronically but use a noise or ultrasonic sound, or spray water or citronella as an alternative stimulus.

The previous Scottish Executive ran a public consultation between September-November 2007 seeking views on whether the use or sale of electronic training devices should be prohibited or restricted. This received 164 responses and views were mixed with respondents split equally in their opinion on whether or not electronic collars should be banned. At that time there was limited support for regulating the use or sale of such devices.

Wales banned the use of electronic training collars in March 2010 under the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Other countries that have also banned their use include Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Some countries, including New Zealand issue guidance on the use of collars in statutory dog welfare codes. Some jurisdictions, for example the Australian State of Victoria, have detailed legal requirements on the technical specification of collars and they may only be used in accordance with a statutory code of practice and under the supervision and written instructions of a veterinary practitioner or a qualified dog trainer.

The latest Defra-funded research into the effect of remote electronic training collars was completed in 2011 and found no evidence of long-term or significant harm to dog welfare, when the collars investigated were used as per manufacturer's instructions.

Microchipping dogs will become compulsory in Scotland from April 6, 2016. See http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Chip-in-16dd.aspx

Until January 2016 the Dogs Trust are running free microchipping road-shows and are facilitating free microchipping at their rehoming centres and participating veterinary practices in Scotland – further details can be obtained from their website. http://www.chipmydog.org.uk/have-your-dog-chipped-for-free/.