Scotland legislation misses the mark on welfare

7 October 2016

Having contributed to a consultation with the Scottish government, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) is disappointed with the recent legislation regarding aversive training devices and tail docking of working dogs.

BSAVA worked with colleagues in the British Veterinary Association (BVA) on a consultation response on behalf of the profession. Whilst both organisations can see the benefit in the decision to prohibit the sale and use of electric pulse, sonic and spray collars unless under the guidance of an approved trainer or vet, it does not meet with our consultation proposal for an all-out ban.

“We can acknowledge that restrictions on sales of electronic training aids are an improvement on the current situation, yet  we are not convinced that on their own they will be sufficient to ensure that electronic training aids do not cause welfare problems” says Philip Lhermette, BSAVA Junior Vice President.

“As a profession we recognise the importance of addressing animal behaviour problems, and understand the challenges owners can face, however our consultation advice was evidence-based and called for a ban on the sale and use of remote electric shock collars and remote control electric shock anti-bark collars and controls on the use of other aversive training aids.”

BSAVA’s position statement advises that shocks and other aversive stimuli received during training may not only be acutely stressful, painful and frightening for the animals, but may also produce long term adverse effects on behavioural and emotional responses. The full statement can be accessed online here.

The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 prohibited the mutilation of animals and there were no exemptions in any regulations for the non-therapeutic docking of dog’s tails. This latest announcement overturns this position and that sets a disappointing precedent. We remain opposed to the docking of puppies’ tails and feel that the current evidence is not strong enough to overturn the previous evidence. We therefore hope the Scottish government continues to monitor this legislation and the welfare of docked and undocked working dogs.