Thank you to all those who contacted me about electronic shock collars, also known as e-collars, for dogs and cats. I know people on both sides feel very strongly about this issue.
I support a ban on the use of electronic shock collars. In my view, no animal should be made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation, and we must drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding.
Many animal welfare organisations, including the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club alongside the RSPCA, oppose the use of e-collars and instead promote positive training methods.
In 2014, the Government funded research on the use of e-collars on dogs. The research concluded e-collars can have long-term detrimental effects on the welfare of dogs, and in 2018 the Government announced its intention to ban hand-held remote-controlled electronic collars, encouraging the use of positive reward training methods. In 2018, following a public consultation seeking views on its plans in England, the Government announced its intention to amend the Animal Welfare Act to implement such a ban.
However, on 27 April 2023, the Government instead announced draft regulations to ban the use of these devices, introducing fines for those in breach of these regulations. This legislation will have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force. If passed, the regulations will come into force on 1 February 2024.
This necessary piece of legislation was recently approved by the House of Lords. I welcome the decision to include an exemption for those with protected characteristics to help those who have a legitimate need for collars that emit sound, vibration or other non-shock signals, whether for the benefit of the owner or the animal.
Although the regulations have not yet been given a date for debate in the House of Commons, the Government stated in July 2023 that it remains committed to the ban. I will follow developments on this matter closely.