Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Electric Dog Collars - Feb 2007

Anyone who has known me well over the past years will have known Trudy – she was my very small and feisty Yorkshire terrier whom I loved very much.

If I had been the one to name her she would have been called Rambo. She thought she was the size of an Alsatian and twice as able.  I was devastated when she died, aged 15, of kidney failure. I still miss her very much.  

Having had that kind of relationship with a dog, cat or other pet makes animal welfare
and animal cruelty something that you cannot ignore.  I have agreed to do a patrol with the RSPCA sometime soon, and I can honestly say it is not something I am looking  forward to.

Private Members Bills are heard in Parliament on a Friday.  They are bills that are introduced by individual members of the House of Commons and not, like all other bills, by the Government.

It is a real honour to have a bill passed in your name. Few achieve it.  The first step is to win a ballot of backbench MPs – this gives you a ranking and the closer to the top of the list you are, the better chance you have of getting the bill introduced.  

I was asked to add my name to a Private Members Bill to ban the use of electric shock collars for dogs.  It was on the order paper for the first Friday in February, but we just didn't get to it.  It will be reintroduced in April.

The Bill aims to stop the sale, manufacture, hire, loan, importation or use of electric shock training devices – a long way of saying banning people from being cruel to their pets in the name of obedience.

I grew up with people saying “You have to be cruel to be kind”.  I never agreed with them then, and we’ve come a long way since then, and no, you don’t. People learn best by being taught how to behave in a nurturing, supportive environment, and so do dogs.

Academics and dog welfare groups agree. Police and Army dog trainers agree. Electronic shock collars used in dog training are cruel say a number of scientists across Europe. But scientists are not putting this to the test because of their ethical concerns about testing dogs to prove something so obvious.

The Kennel Club has been trying to ban electric dog collars for four years, because giving dogs a “static shock” that is painful – it has to be painful or it doesn’t work – is giving owners the right to be cruel to their pets.

Electric shock collars are readily available to buy – you don’t need any training. I was shocked to find some available to buy on the internet for as little as £80.

It is really not rocket science is it? I wonder how the people who used these “training devices” would feel if they had to hand over the controls to their partners and friends and put on the collars themselves?

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