Plans to ban “cruel” electric shock pet collars in England have been confirmed by the Government.
The announcement comes after thousands of people backed campaigns by animal rights activists, calling for the devices to be made illegal.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said today: “We are a nation of animal lovers, and the use of these punitive devices can cause harm and suffering, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to our pets.
“Organisations and MPs have campaigned against the use of shock collars passionately and we are listening to their concerns.
“We are now proposing to ban the use of electric shock collars to improve the welfare of animals.”
A consultation on the proposals will be launched by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs tomorrow, seeking views on all aspects of the plans. It will run until 20 April.
The devices, which are placed around the necks of dogs and sometimes cats and activated via a remote control, are used to train animals and to correct bad behaviour.
But animal charities warned that they not only cause pain and distress to animals, they are also counterproductive in terms of training.
They warned some collars can electrocute an animal for up to 11 seconds at a time and some, which also release a noxious substance, can disrupt an animal’s sense of smell.
The devices are already illegal in Wales and are set to be banned in Scotland.
Among those pushing for the ban is animal charity Dogs Trust.
It welcomed the Government’s plans to ban the collars, which the charity described as “torturous devices [which] can send between 100 to 6000 Volts to a dog’s neck”.
Rachel Casey, Dogs Trust’s Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, said: “It is both unnecessary and cruel to resort to the use of these collars on dogs. This type of device is not only painful for a dog, it can have a serious negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. A dog can’t understand when or why it’s being shocked and this can cause it immense distress, with many dogs exhibiting signs of anxiety and worsened behaviour as a result.”
She suggested that positive reinforcement methods, such as food-based treats, were they best way to train a dog.
The Kennel Club, which has been campaigning on the issue since 2010, said they were “delighted” that a ban is on the cards.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “A ban on electric shock collars is a significant win for dog welfare and will protect countless dogs across the UK. Training a dog with an electric shock collar causes physical and psychological harm and is never acceptable, especially given the vast array of positive training methods available. We are delighted that the Government has listened to the Kennel Club’s longstanding campaign to ban shock collars and hope that a ban on their use is imposed swiftly.
“Shock collars are often marketed as a harmless quick fix solution for dealing with training issues. The truth is that, far from providing a solution, they can easily cause more problems than they seek to fix, and damage the strong bond that should exist between a dog and its owner.
“We applaud Defra for issuing a consultation on banning shock collars, and for taking such a strong stance on the importance of welfare in dog training.”