The Sligo group criticizes plans to ban the use of electronic collars for dog training

The Sligo group criticizes plans to ban the use of electronic collars for dog training

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), with more than 500 members in Sligo, has criticized Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue’s plan to ban electronic dog collars.

The electronic collar/e-collar is a training aid, equipped with a wireless remote control. These collars deliver low-intensity electrical stimulation or shocks that help the trainer teach the dog the difference between right and wrong behaviors.

The use of these electronic collars has been banned in several European countries for animal welfare reasons and will soon be introduced in Ireland.

Sligo has more than 134,000 sheep, who risk attacks when dogs escape the control of their owners. The latest figures showed a worrying increase in livestock with 268 incidents across Ireland in 2022, a 24% increase on the previous year.

A further 791 cases of aggressive dog behavior were reported to local authorities. The national president of the Regional Game Councils, John Butler, said the ban was entirely ideological and devoid of any evidence.

“Peer-reviewed science shows that these devices do not harm a dog. Once trained, the dogs avoid attacking sheep and therefore are not shot by farmers or destroyed by police or vets. It is pure madness that the government would rather cull dogs, which only follow their natural prey instinct, than train them with an electronic collar with a low-level pulse from a 9-volt battery.”

Minister Charlie McConalogue said the move follows months of “significant consultation” and advice from the Companion Animal Welfare Advisory Council established in 2021. NARGC wants the Government to recognize the benefits of e-collars rather than ban them.

Luke Henderson, secretary of the Sligo Regional Game Council, told The Sligo Champion that the legislation itself is flawed.

“On the one hand, the government bans the use of electronic collars, but home fences that can give electric shocks to prevent dogs from going beyond certain areas would remain available. “The second thing is that the number of animals worried about dog attacks has increased significantly in recent years.

“People who want to enjoy the countryside should absolutely be able to enjoy it, but if they insist on keeping their dogs off the lead they should keep them under control.

“Electronic collars are an insurance policy for controlling dogs, there is no point in using them for maximum brutality. I personally don’t use braces myself, but I know people who do and it’s only a short term measure for dog training.

“If trained correctly, the dog begins to understand certain behaviors, such as not chasing sheep, etc., and therefore the need for the e-collar remains reduced.

“The flaw in the legislation is that I can put up a house fence, which basically gives the same amount of shock to the dog if he tries to cross it, but when it comes to the life of livestock, we shouldn’t have to use what is simply an additional insurance policy .

The ban applies only to electronic shock collars operated by hand-held remote controls. Bark collars and electric fences would not be affected. Dog owners who already use the electronic collar on their pets will be able to continue using it, but it cannot be used on new animals.

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