The use of electric shock collars for pets is set to be banned by the government – but people will still be able to buy them.
Environment secretary Michael Gove is set to announce the move later this week, but campaigners say the change in the law does not go far enough, as it prevents the use, but not the sale, of the devices.
“The use of punitive shock collars causes harm and suffering to our pets,” Gove said.
“This ban will improve the welfare of animals and I urge pet owners to instead use positive-reward training methods.”
Moves have already been made in Wales and Scotland to prevent the use of the owner-operated collars, which administer up to 6,000 volts of electricity or spray noxious chemicals to control animals’ behaviour.
The RSPCA carried out a survey on the use of shock collars, which suggested 5 percent of dog owners have used them, and said hundreds of thousands of animals would benefit from the move.
The charity also called for the ban to be extended to electric containment fences.
It said in a statement: “The RSPCA welcomes today’s announcement from government to ban the use but sadly not the sale of remote electronic training collars.
“However, we are bitterly disappointed that, unlike in Wales, the ban will not include those used with electronic containment fences.
“The RSPCA strongly believes that in modern day society there is no excuse or need for the use of devices which can compromise cat and dog welfare, especially when humane and viable alternatives to training and containing dogs and cats are available.”
Former Lib Dem leader and environment spokesman Tim Farron accused the government of watering down its initial promise on a ban.
“Michael Gove marched the government to the top of the hill on this issue, only to shamefully march back down with his tail tucked between his legs,” he said.
“Research from leading experts proves that use of shock collars for dogs and cats is painful and wholly unnecessary. That is why campaigners have consistently made the case for change.
“It is therefore deeply disappointing that the Tories have ruled out an outright ban. Campaigners will be let down, and no doubt many of the government’s own backbenchers too.
“Michael Gove talks the talk on animal welfare but when it comes down to it, he just doesn’t deliver.”