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The BBC's Robert Hall
"Use trust, not fear in their training"
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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Police dog cruelty rules tightened
police dogs
Polcie dog training must be focused on animal welfare
Police dogs will no longer be punished with barbed or electric collars under new animal welfare rules brought in following the conviction of three dog handlers for cruelty.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has launched a national police dog strategy which outlaws the use of punishment equipment such as collars delivering up to 15,000 volts into a dog's neck.

Electric collars and pinch collars can inflict pain and suffering

RSPCA vet Chris Laurence

The RSPCA and National Canine Defence League say they may now lift a ban on rehoming dogs to police forces.

The ban was imposed when three police dog handlers at an Essex training centre were convicted of cruelty in 1998 after a dog, Acer, died from being kicked while hanging from a lead.

"Throughout the review we have worked closely with the RSPCA, the NCDL and other bodies and are pleased that they are able to support our new strategy," said Pauline Clare, chairman of the ACPO Police Dog Sub-committee and Chief Constable of Lancashire.

Focus on welfare

The new strategy focuses on six key areas including the welfare and treatment of dogs and raising public awareness of the work of police dogs.

No pain in training: Electric collars must not be used

Pinch collars, which are barbed and put around a dog's neck as punishment, and the electric collars have been removed from the approved list of equipment for dog handlers.

"Electric collars and pinch collars can inflict pain and suffering on animals and punishment should not be necessary when training a dog," said Chris Laurence, the RSPCA Chief Veterinary Officer.

"Dogs should be trained on a reward for good behaviour basis only, developing a relationship between the animal and the handler that is based on trust.

Animal charity's may lift ban on providing police with dogs

"When we are satisfied that the new code of practice has been fully implemented we will reconsider our position on rehoming animals to the police."

The NCDL, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, is considering lifting the ban on the Lancashire Police Force where a pilot animal welfare visitor scheme has been running for six months which allows members of the public to visit the police dogs.

The charity says it is satisfied that training methods used by the force are appropriate and based on the principles of praise and reward.

The NCDL hopes the scheme will be taken up by other police forces in the country.

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