By Barnaby Dracup
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
The Kennel Club has welcomed a review by the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) on the moral complexity surrounding the use of electric collars.
The report, led by Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln, highlights serious concerns regarding the welfare implications of collars being used by individuals without adequate knowledge.
Assessment of who has that knowledge, given the unregulated nature of the industry, was cited as problematic.
It also identifies the need for devices to adhere to certain criteria (voltage limitations etc.) to prevent abuse.
It also recommends that if legislative action is not taken by government, then the licensing of practitioners - together with a procedure for documenting each use - would need to be introduced.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club communications director, said: “The report’s recommendations as to how these devices could be used without negative welfare implications are so unrealistic to enforce it proves the government really has no choice but to impose an outright ban.”
Additional research is soon to be published by DEFRA on the use of hand held devices with regard to the animal’s welfare.
The research has now cost a total of £538,925 and has raised many concerns regarding its ability to provide true representative data, for example by using skilled dog trainers and heavily biased training protocol when exposing the dogs to electric collars.
More realistic data could have been gained by using general dog owners who are most likely to use the devices with little to no guidance.
The Kennel Club firmly believes that positive training tools and methods exist that can produce dogs that are trained just as (if not more) quickly and reliably, with absolutely no fear, pain, or potential damage to the relationship between dog and handler.
Police dogs, armed forces dogs and assistance dogs are never trained using electric collars.
This viewpoint is shared by dog trainer and behaviourist, Carolyn Menteith, who said: “Electric collars serve no purpose in today’s society. There are many positive and reward-based training methods available which can train dogs effectively.”
“Responsible owners would never wish to train their dog through pain and fear of further punishment which is exactly how these devices work. A ban cannot come soon enough.”
The Kennel Club is lobbying for a ban on electric collars similar to that introduced and successfully upheld in Wales.
This came after the Welsh regulations were cleared by the European Commission, making them the first of their kind in the UK, as well as the first secondary legislation introduced in Wales under the Animal Welfare Act.
The report by Professor Daniel Mills is available at the CAWC website www.cawc.org.uk
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