Petco stops selling shock collars and promotes the #StopTheShock movement

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Petco yesterday announced it would stop selling shock collars both online and in stores in a move welcomed by animal welfare advocates.

The company operates more than 1,500 outlets nationwide.

Shock collars are a controversial tool for dog training. If a dog does something unwanted, like barking or jumping up, its handler can press a button on a remote-controlled device to deliver varying degrees of electronic stimulation to the dog’s neck as punishment. It is also sometimes used to deliver a constant shock until the dog does something “good”.

Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco, said selling shock collars doesn’t align with the company’s mission to improve the lives of pets and people.

“Electricity is good for your microwave, but not for your pets, so we shouldn’t be selling these things,” he told TODAY. “You have this poor, vulnerable, loving animal who had no idea this was going to happen to him, and in our opinion, it’s inhumane.”

Shock collars are used to punish dogs for unwanted behavior.Andrien Trujillo / Courtesy of Petco

Coughlin said with so many people adopting pets for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to promote positive training methods rather than coercive techniques.

“The vast majority of people who come to our stores and buy (shock collars) are just regular consumers who don’t know any better,” he said. “So we have a job to make sure we provide them with the right options.”

When some people witness their dog’s reaction to a shock collar, they never use it again. A recent Petco study found that 59% of pet parents surveyed would rather electrocute themselves than their dog, and Coughlin said shock collars are one of the most commonly returned products.

Petco broadcasts an online petition encouraging others to #StopTheShock.

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