Sturgeon promises to look again at legislation against shock dog collars

By Bill Heaney

Pet lovers are pressing hard for a complete legislative ban on dog shock collars.

MSP Christine Grahame, pictured above left, has asked Nicola Surgeon to step into the debate to legislate for legal prohibition by the Scottish Government.

The First Minister replied: “We have introduced guidance that was widely accepted and reported at the time as being an effective ban on the use of electric dog collars as training aids.

“That was not a legislative ban on the use of such collars, and it was never intended to be, but it is intended to avoid the misuse of such collars and, ultimately, to prevent the unnecessary suffering of dogs.

“I appreciate that some members think that we should go further, and equally I understand that some people think that we have already gone too far.

“The cabinet secretary committed to issuing the guidance and that is what we have done. She also committed, however, to reviewing the effectiveness of the guidance after 12 months and to considering whether any further action is required. That is exactly what we will do.”

Christine Grahame, who represents Lauderdale where fox hunting with hounds is a popular sport, claimed the cabinet secretary said in January: “I have decided to take steps to effectively and promptly ban their use in Scotland.”

She added: “That is not what happened; as the First Minister said, guidance was issued. However, many animal welfare organisations, such as the Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and people like myself, want a straightforward ban, as there is in Wales.

“With no ban, can the First Minister tell me how effective the guidance is? Will she advise whether there has been any reduction in usage?”

The First Minister said: “During the Parliament’s debate on the matter back in January and during discussions with stakeholders on the wording, it was clearly recognised that the guidance would be advisory. The Kennel Club said at the time that it welcomed the ban on shock training devices and that ‘strict guidance has been published which provides advice on training methods and training aids for dogs’.

“The guidance was published on 15 October, so it is too soon to comment meaningfully on its effect.

“We have committed to reviewing its impact after 12 months. We will do that in light of the practical experience of Scottish enforcement bodies and any new legislation in other administrations.

“We will then consider whether any improvements need to be made to the approach that we have taken.”

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