Middleton backs call for dog ‘shock collars’ ban

Gary Middleton MLA backing the Dogs Trust campaign at Stormont. INLS 47-701-CON
Gary Middleton MLA backing the Dogs Trust campaign at Stormont. INLS 47-701-CON

A leading dog welfare charity has called for a ban on the sale of ‘electronic shock collars’.

Officials of the Dogs Trust this week discussed animal welfare issues with 36 MLAs, including Foyle DUP representative Gary Middleton.

The Trust, which has a rehoming centre in County Antrim, cares for nearly 17,000 dogs each year and never puts a healthy dog to sleep.

Claire Calder, Dogs Trust head of Public Affairs, said: “We are calling on MLAs to back our calls for a ban on the sale and use of electric shock, spray and sonic collars. These devices use the principle of being aversive to dogs to inhibit behaviour and so have the potential to negatively impact dog welfare.

“The use of aversive stimuli when training dogs can cause pain and anxiety, and can be associated with both physiological and behavioural indicators of stress.

“We are disappointed that the Northern Ireland Assembly has no current plans to consult on the use of electronic training devices but we hope by raising awareness of this issue the Government will take action to protect man’s best friend.”

The Welsh Government has already made it illegal to use electronic collars on dogs and the Scottish Government recently committed to regulating their use.

The Trust only uses reward-based methods to train.

Mr Middleton said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Dogs Trust to the Assembly to discuss their concerns. I fully support their call for action on the issue of electronic shock collars and will be working with them to ensure Northern Ireland does not get left behind when it comes to protecting the welfare of all dogs.”

The Dogs Trust Public Affairs team also engaged with MLAs on the breeding and sale of dogs and their work as part of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) which focusses on the online advertising of pets for sale.