Electric collars that give out shocks to dogs and cats are to be outlawed by the government.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed this week that “punitive” shock collars which “cause harm and suffering to our pets” are to be banned.
Used as training devices, the remote controlled collars can trigger an electric pulse of varying strength, or spray noxious chemicals at the animal.
However, a letter sent from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in February suggested that there was insufficient evidence for supporting a ban.
The document, sent to the Royal Veterinary College, noted scientific research that it had commissioned “was not strong enough to support a ban” on “electronic training aids for dogs”.
A similar statement was made by Defra Minister George Eustice in a 2014 letter, in which he said the department did not consider that there was “evidence that the use of such devices causes unnecessary suffering”.
Dog trainer and campaigner Jamie Penrith said that in February the Government had “insufficient evidence” to conclusively support the suggestion that the collars have a negative impact on welfare, but that “two weeks later at the beginning of March these ‘barbaric, punitive devices need to be stripped from the market'”.
Ian Gregory, a lobbyist for pet collars, said: “The Secretary of State should desist from feeding the nation’s pets to the wolves of Twitter.
â€śThe anecdotal problems reported with pet collars can be resolved by product standards rather than by banning a proven technology.
“The hundreds of thousands of dog owners using remote trainer do not deserve to be criminalised.”
The ban on remote-controlled electronic training collars will not be extended to invisible fencing systems which can keep pets away from roads and within a boundary without receiving a static pulse, the Government announced.
Mr Gove said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and the use of punitive shock collars cause harm and suffering to our pets.
“This ban will improve the welfare of animals and I urge pet owners to instead use positive reward training methods.”
The announcement was welcomed by the Dogs Trust.
Dr Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research at the Trust, said: “Scientific research has demonstrated that electronic devices which deliver an aversive stimulus have a negative impact on dog welfare, so this ban will have a major positive impact for dogs in the UK.
“However, we are saddened that the Government hasn’t gone a step further and used this opportunity to ban the use of containment fences, to ensure that all UK dogs are protected from this outdated approach to training.”
Use of the collars has been banned in Wales, and earlier this year Scotland began moves towards prohibiting dog owners using them.
But it is only the UK Government which can ban their sale across the country.