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The United Kingdom is banning pet collars that deliver shocks or spray chemicals. The UK’s Environmental secretary Michael Gove announced on Monday that the country would bar “punitive” collars that “cause harm and suffering to our pets.”

Scotland is also working to ban shock collars, and Wales outlawed shock collars in 2010. The devices, which were originally meant to keep hunting dogs from straying, have been around since the 1960s.

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In February, Gove’s department sent a letter to the Royal Veterinary College claiming there was not enough evidence to support a ban on shock collars. That’s why Grove’s final decision on the ban surprised and upset dog collar advocates, according to BBC and the Independent.

“The secretary of state should desist from feeding the nation’s pets to the wolves of Twitter,” Ian Gregory, a pet collar lobbyist (whose job apparently includes advocating for shocking good dogs), told the Independent, referring to social media campaigns advocating against shock collars. “The hundreds of thousands of dog owners using remote trainers do not deserve to be criminalized.”

A survey from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests that five percent of dog owners reported using shock collars. BBC points out that this means hundreds of thousands of pets and pet owners could be affected by the new regulation.

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According to the UK animal welfare organization Dogs Trust, existing shock collars can administer up to 6,000 volts to an animal’s neck for up to 11 seconds.

In the United States there are no major regulations on shock collars, though the FDA has deemed collars that administer shock when animals bark as being “hazardous to the health of the animal.”

[BBC, Independent]

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