Boulder trainer considers ballot measure banning choke, prong and shock collars on dogs – Boulder Daily Camera


What are these collars for?

To choke: These collars are usually made of metal links and are designed to allow owners to control their dogs’ movements by tightening the collar around the dogs neck. When used improperly, choke collars can, according to the Humane Society, cause “injury to the trachea and esophagus, damage to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, fainting spells, transient paralysis and even death”.

Tooth: Sometimes known as “pinch collars”, this piece of equipment fits around dogs’ necks in a loop that features a series of prongs with blunt ends. When the loop is pulled, dogs’ teeth pinch and can injure their trachea if owners pull too hard or too long. Many people use these collars to limit dogs’ ability to run erratically.

Shock: These collars send electrical currents to dogs, which is why they are sometimes called “e-collars.” Most versions of the technology allow owners to increase or decrease the voltage, allowing them to produce something as mild as a slight vibration or something as extreme as a full electric shock. These collars are often used in tandem with invisible fences, so dogs are automatically shocked whenever they stray from a boundary set by the owner.

A Boulder woman is launching a campaign she hopes will lead to a citywide ban on the use of choking, stinging and shocking dog collars.

“I don’t want Boulder residents to feel alienated or hurt if they use them,” said Mary Angilly, a professional dog trainer. “It’s about educating people and showing them that there are other ways.”

Angilly is still working on her action plan and beginning to build her coalition, but she said she aspires to get that proposed 2018 ballot ban in Boulder.

If the city ends up approving a ban on these three controversial forms of dog training equipment, it will be the first in the United States to do so, though similar efforts have been successful in a handful of locations across the country. outside the country, including Canada and the United Kingdom.

Angilly’s case is that dog owners should train their animals with positive reinforcement.

“A lot of people will be like, ‘Oh, you don’t like that gear very much, you’re a Boulder hippie running through a field of daisies,'” she said. .

“My argument, and most trainers who are against using this equipment, is not that it doesn’t work. Punishment and the use of force and fear to train dogs can work very well. The main problem is the many potential fallouts.

Among the side effects seen in some dogs when owners use fear- or pain-based training equipment, she said, are added stress; suppressed or abnormally high aggression; and emotional arrest and growth retardation.

It’s possible, and often easier, to get a dog to behave the way you want it to, Angilly said, by using reward-based systems.

Bridgette Chesne, director of animal behavior and housing at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, agrees. The Humane Society ran publicity campaigns to support the message that Angilly now strives to spread.

“I think over the past decade there has been more evidence to suggest the unnecessary nature of the bullying force imposed on our pet families. The choice to do it in a gentler way , friendlier and more positive – we believe that in the long run, it really fosters a more fruitful relationship between that pet and that parent,” Chesne said.

She added: “When we show dogs what we want them to do and offer reinforcement to get them to do it, it gets them to our end goal in a fun, engaging and upbeat way.”

A political calculation

Angilly still has a long way to go if, indeed, his idea is to turn into an electoral measure. At a minimum, it will need to collect thousands of petition signatures from registered voters.

But she will also have to figure out what she wants and doesn’t want her campaign to address.

In her “ideal world,” she says, the city would outlaw both the sale and use of the three necklaces she identified as problematic.

Given, however, that no other place in America has issued such a ban, she is looking to start small, in order to give her campaign as much chance as possible to gain support and influence change.

“A zero-tolerance policy would be my preference,” Angilly said, “but I wonder what would most easily reach the people of Boulder.”

She has already made a political calculation, deciding from the outset to exclude from her proposed ban the use of invisible fencing equipment, which also relies on shocks to deter dogs from straying from the perimeter desired by the owner.

“Invisible fencing is, for some reason, more widely accepted, so I don’t know what that would look like in terms of reaching residents,” Angilly said.

That certainly seemed to be the case among dog owners and enthusiasts interviewed Friday at Valmont Dog Park in northeast Boulder.

They came up with different versions of Angilly’s idea, but were generally much more comfortable using shock collars, sometimes called electronic collars, than chokes and pins.

Shock collars were first used in the 1960s to limit hunting dog wandering, and today’s versions typically have varying levels of tension available to the user, which with some products , can control the collar via remote control.

A woman was seen doing this at Valmont, but, as she demonstrated with her own hand, the level of tension she set was so low that the shock from the collar was more of a mild vibration than a an electric shock.

Watching this demo, two of the woman’s friends said they had no problem with the technology, if it was used “responsibly”.

Strangling a dog or using a collar that digs into a dog’s neck, however, was less appealing to them.

“Anything that does that,” Nancy Portnoy said, “isn’t the way to positively reinforce.”

But humans at the dog park had more questions about the value and practicality of using the law to combat pain-inducing dog collars, though they mostly agreed that, as Portnoy said, “Angilly’s heart is in the right place”.

Chas. Barbour – no, that’s not a typo; there really is a period in his name, he said – has volunteered at the dog park for many years, and when asked if he would vote for the type of measure Angilly is proposing, he stopped to think.

“Hmm. I don’t know. Boys, would we vote for this?” he said, turning to his friends.

They both shook their heads.

“It’s too easy to get around,” Barbour said.

Joel Silverman, another visitor to the park, said: “I think it’s a bit of a stretch to have a law. … That seems a little too regulated to me.

Both men also said that bundling shock collars with chokes and teeth would make them less supportive of the campaign.

“I see it as something much less human because they can cause more damage and hurt more than a buzz in the neck,” Barbour said.

“I think those choke collars are awful and the claw collars are awful too,” Silverman said.

Angilly said she knows convincing people to approve a one-of-a-kind ban — in the United States, anyway — can be a tough proposition, even in a city that has repeatedly shown its will. to adopt policies that would seem unpopular and overly restrictive in other communities, such as Boulder’s plastic bag fees and the soft drink tax.

“There really isn’t anything like that in the country,” she said. “I think it will be quite difficult to accomplish.”

Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, [email protected] or


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