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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 09:09 GMT
Ban possible on pet shock devices
Joan Andrews and Bonny
Joan Andrews said she hoped the devices would be banned

A ban on the sale and use of electric collars and similar training aids on dogs and cats is being considered in Wales amid concern over animal cruelty.

Some give the animals a small electric shock, which their supporters say startle them, rather than cause pain.

Owners can activate the devices in response to behaviour such as barking and they can be used for training.

But as the assembly government begins consultation, critics claim the devices are cruel and unnecessary.

Ministers will gather the views of animal experts and organisations on the collars which can be bought from pet shops or on the internet for 25 or more.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones backs a ban which could be introduced using the Animal Welfare Act powers, which are new to the Welsh assembly.

We take animal welfare very seriously in Wales and I do have concerns about the use of such training aids, particularly electric shock collars
Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones

But the minister said she wanted to consider both sides of the argument before taking any action.

"There are strong views for and against the use of electronic training aids, which a number of animal welfare organisations believe are cruel and unnecessary," said Ms Jones.

"We take animal welfare very seriously in Wales and I do have concerns about the use of such training aids, particularly electric shock collars."

There are a number of different electronic training aids, including an anti-bark collar, remote control collars used to control any unwanted behaviour, electric shock training leads and electric boundary or "freedom" fences.

In a consultation document, concerns about the potential misuse of these devices are expressed by the Kennel Club and the RSPCA.

Holly Lee from the Kennel Club said electric collars delivered a painful shock to dogs.

"It has been tried by quite a few Assembly Members I have met and they said it was painful," she said.

"They are the most highly aversive training devices and the only way they can change a dog's behaviour is through pain and through fear."

Neither the British Veterinary Association (BVA) nor the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) support the use of the devices, the document said.

In a statement, the BSAVA said that shocks received during training could be stressful, painful and frightening for the animal and may also produce long-term adverse effects on behaviour.

We have letters from several hundred cat and dog owners who feel that their animal would be dead without one of the devices
Duncan McNair, Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association

Campaign group Advocates for Animals said research from the University of Bristol claimed that anti-bark devices had been activated by noises in the environment.

However, the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association (ECMA) said failsafe systems on the devices prevented this from happening.

'Not painful'

It also claimed that the electric training aids had saved "thousands of animal lives" because the devices had helped to successfully train them not to chase livestock or game, attack other pets or people, eat dangerous material or chase cars.

Roger Matthews, who manufactures the collars and is a member of the ECMA, disputed the claim that the devices inflicted pain.

"It's unpleasant, but it does not hurt," he said.

"We are talking about very, very small amounts of energy. It is an electrical impulse, but it is 5,000 times less powerful than the electrical impulse we are happy to see used in stock fencing for horses and cattle."

Mr Matthews said he had not seen any evidence that the collars caused any lasting harm to animals.

"There are hundreds of thousands of these units in use throughout the UK... where is the documented evidence of abuse?" he added.

The consultation paper is being sent to veterinary surgeons, animal welfare organisations, local authorities the police and companies involved in the manufacture and sale of electronic training aids.

Those wishing to comment on the electric training aids have until 1 February.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Dog being trained with electric shock collar



SEE ALSO
Electric shock collar ban plans
07 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Dog electric shock ban rejected
27 Apr 07 |  UK Politics

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