The Netherlands will ban the use of shock collars on dogs from July next year, Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Minister Carola Schouten announced. She also tackles abuse in the breeding of so-called “designer cats”, RTL Nieuws and the Telegraaf report.
The ban on shock collars applies to individual dog owners as well as qualified dog trainers. Those who still use shock collars after July 1, 2020, will face a fine of up to 20,000 euros, or a maximum prison sentence of three years, according to RTL.
According to current scientific knowledge, the use of an anti-shock collar is “a serious and inevitable violation of the welfare of the dog,” Schouten wrote in a letter to parliament. Shockproof collars are often used in dog training. According to Schouten, there is no evidence that using a shock collar leads to better results in behavioral training than other non-electrical measures. “The collar leads, however you look at it, to less animal welfare. The animal suffers, it hurts, and if it doesn’t need to be, we shouldn’t.”
The minister is also tackling abuses in the breeding of thoroughbred cats, reports the Telegraaf. “We no longer accept that cat welfare comes at the expense of breeders who design animals because people find them physically beautiful,” she said. “We will now take action against this.” Schouten has a particular focus on the Bambino Sphynx cat breed. In many cases, due to breeding for appearance, these cats have too short legs, have poor eyesight, cannot orient themselves due to lack of whiskers, and generally have so little fur that they can freeze to death in winter or suffer severe sunburn in summer.
The Minister also previously announced new animal welfare criteria for dog breeding, mainly focused on breeding for external characteristics. Dogs should be bred for health, not for appearance, she believes.
While a number of political parties, like the PvdD Animal Party, and animal welfare organizations are thrilled with the shock collars ban, not everyone is happy. Two dog trainers told RTL that they have been using shock collars with great success.
Dog behavior expert Anniek Winters has been using shock collars for years, primarily for training unmanageable or unsocialized dogs. “A dog has never been afraid of it, I never had a problem with it,” Winters told RTL Nieuws. “The collar shouldn’t be seen as a way to punish the dog, it’s a mistake a lot of people make. It’s not a button you press if the dog is mean. communication, and we teach people that too. ”She adjusts the collar to the lowest possible shock the dog is reacting to. She stressed that a dog should never react to shock by moaning, crying or being afraid. “Then it’s too high and then you get a shy dog.”
Edith Peters, who primarily trains hunting dogs, has seen shock collars used improperly, resulting in physical and emotional injury in dogs. But she doesn’t view the collar itself as animal abuse. She uses it on all the dogs she trains. “Always with success,” she said. “Without this collar, many dogs would have lost their freedom because they can no longer walk without a leash. Or worse: they must have been asleep.”
Winters and Peters both stress that necklaces must be used correctly. “I am only in favor of an electronic collar for people and dogs that are well trained by an experienced trainer,” said Winters. “Never by a loose collar without explanation or training.”
“If collars are banned, a lot of dogs will become unhappy,” Peters told the broadcaster. “But do you know what you can ban? Selling these collars to desperate dog owners who use them without advice.” According to her, a shock collar should be “the first aid”, not the last resort. “And you have to know what you are starting or not doing.”