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English sheep farmers call on UK government not to follow Wales in banning electric dog collars

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Photo by Nation.Cymru

Farmers in England have written to the UK government asking them not to follow the example of Wales by introducing a ban on electric dog collars.

The letter signed by members of the National Sheep Association says Wales, where a ban already exists, has seen an increase in both attacks on sheep and the number of dogs shot by farmers.

In 2010, Wales became the first UK region to ban the use of shock collars, while Scotland issued guidance against their use in 2018.

The UK government has promised to do the same this year.

But Phil Stocker, executive director of the National Sheep Association, told the Telegraph newspaper that “dog attacks on sheep are getting progressively worse and farmers are fed up with the trauma of finding dead and injured sheep and, in some cases, telling people they have had to shoot their dogs.

“The solution starts with owners keeping their dogs on a leash. But dogs with a strong prey drive must also be trained, and as the signers of this letter say, it would be insane to ban a proven and effective way of training them to be wary of sheep.

“We are in favor of regulation to minimize any risk of misuse, but a blanket ban on e-collar training would be an extreme mistake.”


His comments come after the NFU published data showing Welsh farmers suffered £306,068 in losses from dog attacks last year compared to £68,408 in Scotland.

However, the Welsh government has said it has no plans to review the position, saying the electronic collars “cause pain”.

But in their letter, the English sheep farmers pointed to criticism of the ban in Wales by farmer Gareth Wyn Jones, who said “you have to be cruel to be kind” and that a collar that prevents a dog from chasing cattle it’s better than having to. slaughter a dog after killing a sheep.

“The government is banning things because they think it’s cruel, but what is more cruel?” he asked her. “For a sheep to be torn to shreds or for a dog to get a little electric shock that is less than the one he gets from a fence?

“These collars are a deterrent. You don’t have to be smart to understand that proper training can save lives: lives of sheep, lives of dogs, or even lives of people as owners get into serious trouble and we’ve seen people get trampled when they have a dog that chases cattle. ”

He added: “The government has to go back and look at the evidence, it has to listen to the people on the ground.”


The letter from the National Sheep Association warns that “the view that these attacks can be stopped by biscuit training a dog is naive nonsense.”

He adds: “While we agree with Defra that it is important to leash dogs around sheep, the vast majority of attacks occur when a dog has run away. Therefore, it would be totally irresponsible to ban the only training that prevents such attacks and can prevent dogs from being shot to death.”

The letter states that sheep farmers in Wales “suffer four times as many attacks and have to shoot many more dogs than their counterparts in other parts of the UK”.

“Above all, the government should not ban them. That would be an absolute disaster for animal welfare.”

However, a Defra spokesman said: “The government’s proposed ban on hand-held electric shock collars will protect dogs from these harmful devices which can be all too easily exposed to abuse.

“It is important that dogs are trained to behave well, ideally from a young age, and that they are gradually and positively introduced to different environments, people and animals. Dog owners can avoid livestock concern incidents by keeping their dogs on leashes near livestock.”

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