Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Newham Recorder Column: Banning Dog Collars

Last week the environment secretary, Michael Gove, finally admitted he wants to ban shock collars for dogs and cats.  About time.

Six separate research studies all confirmed the severe impact of shock collars on dogs.

One Government study in 2011 showed that even if the manufacturers’ instructions are followed to the letter, dogs are traumatised by having to wear them.

These barbaric devices give pets electric shocks through metal prongs which contact the neck, causing pain, creating fear.  Put simply, a dog can’t understand why it is being shocked.  It causes real distress.  It’s cruel and wrong.  Leading welfare, veterinary training and behaviour organisations all call for a complete ban.

Fully 74% of the British public want shock collars banned.  Around a third believe they are illegal already.  Wales banned them in 2010 and, in January, the Scottish Government announced it will ban them, too.  Surely, a UK-wide total ban is a no brainer.

Gove, the Secretary of State responsible, wants them banned, but they still might not be.  Media rumours abound that the law may be blocked, simply because one Tory minister is reported to use electric collars on his cats, to prevent them leaving his garden.  Seriously?  A cabinet member can block legislation, because he wants the right to mistreat his pets?  I can’t believe even this Government is in such a mess that this rumour can be true.  If true, it is a shameful disgrace.

Tory Governments are not good for animal welfare.

The number of pets surrendered to rescue shelters by people who cannot afford to keep them has increased alarmingly, while animal welfare charities lose funding.  Puppy farms and ‘backyard breeders’ seeking quick cash continued to produce ever more dogs, but there are scant resources available to charities or the Police to enforce proper standards.

Labour will bring animal welfare up-to-date and ban shock collars.  We will increase maximum sentences for those convicted of animal cruelty, improve accessibility to vets for those on low incomes and ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

It’s time the Government grew a backbone and took some action.

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