Electric shock collars for dogs are to be banned in Scotland with immediate effect, the Scottish Government has announced.
The collars are used to train dogs through the use of small shocks, but have come under fire from animal rights activists and opposition politicians.
Commenting on the decision, Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “After carefully considering the concerns raised by stakeholders and the public about electronic training collars for dogs, particularly the ready availability on the internet of cheap devices which can be bought by anyone and used to deliver painful electric shocks, I have decided to take steps to effectively and promptly ban their use in Scotland.
“Causing pain to dogs by inappropriate training methods is clearly completely unacceptable and I want there to be no doubt that painful or unpleasant training for dogs will not be tolerated.
“I am particularly keen to support the work of Scottish enforcement agencies with effective and practical measures so that anyone found causing pain to dogs through the use of collars or other devices can be prosecuted as they deserve. I will therefore be issuing strong Ministerial guidance on the use of all painful training devices for Courts to take into consideration in any cases brought before them regarding unnecessary suffering through the use of these devices.
“I have therefore today published initial draft guidance, which I look forward to developing with key stakeholders, particularly those with direct responsibility for enforcement.”
Scottish animal protection charity, OneKind welcomed the news.
Harry Huyton, OneKind director, said: “Electric shock collars are cruel, unnecessary and ineffective. I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has today taken a stand against cruelty and taken decisive action against their use.”
With the use of electric shock collars banned in Wales and now Scotland, our attention must turn to Westminster. Even with these bans, anyone can still buy an electric shock collar in the UK for as little as £20 and break the law by using it to abuse animals. If we are to end their use for good, then Westminster needs to legislate against them too.”
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has worked alongside campaigners to ban these aversive training methods across the UK, with Wales banning them in 2010.
Scottish Government had initially planned to regulate the use of shock collars, but this was not supported by BVA and animal welfare charities.
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 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.”