Thank you for contacting me about the draft Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) Regulations.
Following similar correspondence received from other constituents, I wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs requesting a formal government response. A copy of that response is immediately below this email.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking
Jonathan Lord MP
House of Commons
14 July 2023
Thank you for your email of 29 June on behalf of your constituents about the draft Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) Regulations. I am replying as the Minister responsible for this policy area.
The draft regulations were developed after considering a broad range of factors, including the impact of banning them. When considered alongside the academic research, the public consultation responses, and direct engagement with the sector, the Government concluded that their use should be prohibited. The same conclusion was reached by other nations that have already banned their use, including Wales, Austria and Germany.
Defra commissioned a research study which showed that electric shock collars controlled by hand-held devices have a negative impact on the welfare of some dogs. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission has also recently conducted its own review, which included examining academic literature, obtaining written evidence and holding evidence sessions, and they concluded that electric shock collars should be banned.
It may also be helpful to clarify the scope of the regulations. The prohibition will only apply to the use of e-collars controlled by hand-held devices that deliver an electric shock to cats or dogs. This proportionate and targeted ban will permit the continued use of other electronic collars and containment systems as they are not associated with such harm and abuse.
Regarding livestock worrying, we maintain that it is best practice to keep dogs on leads around livestock. Defra liaised closely with police chiefs to understand any potential unintended consequences of the ban in this regard. It was reported that the vast majority of livestock worrying cases seen by police forces involve dogs which have escaped from the premises in which they are kept without their owners knowing. The ban will not impact on owners’ ability to effectively secure their premises, nor does it extend to containment systems or invisible fencing, as these are not associated with the same degree of harm as collars controlled by hand-held devices.
We recognise that, at present, pet owners may be using these devices whilst being unaware of the harm they can cause. The intention is not to punish those using such training methods and devices. Rather, in introducing the ban, the Government hopes to highlight the harms caused by electric shock collars, helping pet owners to use safer training methods in future.
Once approved, the ban will come into force from 1 February 2024, giving pet owners time to adopt alternative training methods.
THE RT HON LORD BENYON