Is Michael Gove right to ban electric dog collars?

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The government has announced that electric cat and dog collars will be banned in England, a move that has prompted critics to accuse Environment Secretary Michael Gove of a dramatic policy reversal.

Shock collars, which are often sold as training devices, can provide “up to 6,000 volts of electricity or spray harmful chemicals to control animal behavior,” reports the BBC.

Gove says it causes unacceptable “pain and suffering” to the animals. He is expected to reveal the decision to ban the sale of the devices later this week after a massively supported public consultation to ban them, Metro said.

The newspaper says the use of necklaces has already been banned in Wales. Earlier this year, Scotland started to follow suit.

Animal charities, many of which have campaigned for the ban, welcome the move.

Dr Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behavior and Research at the Dogs Trust, said: “Scientific research has shown that electronic devices that deliver an aversive stimulus have a negative impact on the well-being of dogs. Great Britain.”

But supporters of the necklaces have criticized what they describe as a “full 180” by Gove, whose department said in February – in a letter obtained by the Press Association – that there had been “little research” for support a ban.

The document, which was sent to the Royal Veterinary College, claimed that the scientific evidence commissioned by Gove’s department was “not strong enough to warrant a ban.”

Dog trainer and activist Jamie Penrith said The independent that Gove had made a “brutal” decision. “It’s a full 180,” said Penrith.

Ian Gregory, a lobbyist for the makers of pet collars, says the collars help prevent some of the 300,000 cat deaths in traffic accidents. He says animal charities are exaggerating the impact of the shock delivered by collars, especially when compared to the legal practice of prodding livestock.

“The reported anecdotal issues with pet collars can be addressed through product standards rather than banning proven technology,” he said.

“The hundreds of thousands of dog owners using remote trainers do not deserve to be criminalized.”

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