Boulder trainer considers voting measure to ban choke, claw and shock collars on dogs – Boulder Daily Camera

What are these necklaces for?

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

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

Shock: These collars pump electrical currents into dogs, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “electronic collars”. Most versions of the technology allow owners to turn the voltage up or down, allowing them to deliver something as gentle as a light 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 away from a limit set by the owner.

A Boulder woman is launching a campaign that she hopes will lead to a citywide ban on the use of dog collars that choke, shock and shock.

“I don’t want the residents of Boulder to feel alienated or bad 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 out her action plan and starting to build her coalition, but she has said she aspires to get this proposal to ban the 2018 ballot in Boulder.

If the city does eventually approve a ban on these three controversial forms of dog training equipment, it will be the first in the United States to do so, although similar efforts have been successful in a handful of places in the world. outside the country, particularly in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The argument made by Angilly is that dog owners should train their pets with positive reinforcement.

“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh you don’t like this gear very much, you’re a Boulder hippie running around a field of daisies,'” she said. “It’s not like that at all.

“My point, and most of the coaches 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 definitely work. The main problem is the many potential spinoffs.

Among the side effects seen in some dogs when owners use fear or pain-based training equipment, she said, is stress; suppressed or unusually high aggressiveness; and emotional arrest and stunting.

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

Bridgette Chesne, director of animal behavior and shelter at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, agrees. The Humane Society has run advertising campaigns to support the message Angilly is now working to get across.

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

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

A political calculation

Angilly has a long way to go if, in fact, his idea is to turn into a voting 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 said, the city would make illegal both the sale and use of the three necklaces it identified as problematic.

Given, however, that no other place in America has issued such a ban, she seeks to start small, in order to give her campaign the best possible chance of gaining support and influencing change.

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

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

“Invisible fences are, for some reason, more widely accepted, so I don’t know what it would look like to reach residents,” Angilly said.

This 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 with using shock collars, sometimes referred to as electronic collars, than with chokes and claws.

Shock collars were first used in the 1960s to limit the wandering of hunting dogs, and today’s versions generally have different voltage levels available to the user, which with some products, can control the collar via a remote control.

A woman was seen doing this in Valmont, but, as she demonstrated with her own hand, the voltage level she set was so low that the shock to the collar was more of a light vibration than 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”.

However, smothering a dog or using a collar that digs into a dog’s neck was less attractive to them.

“Anything that does that,” said Nancy Portnoy, “is not the way to positively reinforce.”

But the humans at the dog park were wondering more about the value and feasibility of using the law to combat pain-inducing dog collars, even though they mostly agreed that, like 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 first name, he said – volunteered at the dog park for many years, and, when asked if he would vote for the type of measure Angilly is proposing , he thought about it.

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

They both shook their heads.

“It’s just 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. … It seems a bit over-regulated to me.

Both men also said that adding impact collars with chokes and teeth would make them less campaign-friendly.

“I see this is something a lot less human, because they can cause more damage and hurt more than a ringing neck,” Barbour said.

“I think those strangler collars are horrible and the claw collars horrible, too,” Silverman said.

Angilly said she knew convincing people to approve a one-of-a-kind ban – in the United States, anyway – could prove to be a difficult proposition, even in a city that has repeatedly shown its will. adopt policies that would seem unpopular and overly restrictive in other communities, like Boulder’s plastic bag fees and the soda tax.

“There isn’t really 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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