Scotland’s decision to ban the use of electric shock collars and other electronic training devices has been welcomed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
BVA has worked alongside campaigners to ban these aversive training methods across the UK, with Wales banning them in 2010.The Scottish Government had initially planned to regulate the use of shock collars, but this was not supported by BVA and animal welfare charities.
The news was confirmed in the Scottish Parliament when SNP MSP Ben Macpherson (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) wanted: ‘To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its position on electronic training devices for dogs.’
Roseanna Cunningham, cabinet secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform, replied: ‘The Scottish Government intends to ensure electronic training devices cannot be used to cause pain to animals.
‘We will consult with animal welfare organisations to develop specific guidance under Article 38 of the Animal Health and Welfare Scotland Act (2006). This guidance will be published promptly to allow Courts to take it fully into account when considering criminal cases involving those accused of causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
‘We will not be pursuing our initial plans to recognise a qualification for trainers wishing to use electronic training collars.’
Vet Melissa Donald, BVA Scottish branch president, said: ‘This is a real win for animal welfare. Electronic training devices have a negative, painful effect on dogs and, as Scottish Government has now recognised, can cause unnecessary suffering.
‘We know from leading veterinary behaviourists that using fear as a training tool is less effective than positive reinforcement and can take a toll on the dog’s overall welfare.
‘We are grateful to Scottish Government for listening to the expert advice from veterinary surgeons and behaviourists who have first-hand experience of what can go wrong when aversive training methods are used to control and punish animals.’
The BVA will continue to push for an outright ban on the sale and import of shock collars across the UK.
John Fishwick, BVA President, added: ‘With effective bans on the use of these devices in Wales and Scotland, we want to see action taken in England and Northern Ireland, including a UK-wide ban on their sale and import.
‘Anyone in need of advice on dealing with pet behaviour issues should always speak to their vet to get advice on how to do it positively and humanely.’