Green Party Leader calls for shock collar ban in Northern Ireland

Sunday March 11th 2018

Green Party leader Steven Agnew has welcomed news that shock collars are to be banned in England and warned that Northern Ireland cannot be left as the only UK region where they remain legal.

The devices, used to control pets, are already banned in Wales and Scotland has announced that it is following suit.

The North Down MLA said: “I have always argued that these devices do little to assist dog training. What they are is cruel and designed to cause unnecessary pain and suffering.

“Any reputable dog trainer will tell you that they have little value in producing better behaviour in pets.

“Studies have shown that the use of confrontational training methods is actually likely to increase aggressive behaviour in dogs. Dogs respond fearfully to the application of shocks, showing lowered body posture and even yelping and barking, illustrating that the shocks are indeed painful.

“They may start to associate the presence of their owner with pain, and respond fearfully to them too. Dogs can even present with medical problems after training with shock collars: skin irritation, contact necrosis, and serious bacterial infection have all been seen in dogs regularly trained with shock collars.

“There is also the risk that shock collars will malfunction, delivering multiple shocks to the animal for no reason. The collar can cease to work at all, meaning the pet in question may return to the problem behaviour.

Dog (unhappy)(3)

“In April 2012, we introduced new animal welfare legislation into Northern Ireland, making it illegal to cause unnecessary suffering to our pets.

“When we consider that all of the behavioural problems mentioned above can be overcome with the use of reward-based training, the use of shock collars and the horrific side effects they can result in are unnecessary, and therefore, potentially illegal under the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) 2011 Act.

“When we take animals into our homes as our pets, we have a legal and moral obligation to provide them with a good quality of life. That means taking the responsibility to train them in an ethical and fun way to enable them to fit in with human society.

“We cannot justify causing them pain, fear and stress by using punitive training methods when science shows us that these techniques often do more harm than good. Indeed, an animal prone to aggression or excessive barking is often an animal that is frustrated or scared, and causing regular pain and fear to that animal is not going to improve their welfare.

“I have previously tabled a motion to the Assembly on this important issue and it is now time for shock collars to be banned UK-wide. If we call ourselves a nation of animal-lovers, we cannot justify allowing this form of torture to be used on our pets.”


Media Contact: Linda Stewart

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