Michael Gove set to drop plan for total ban on shock collars for pets

Michael Gove is preparing to drop plans for a total ban on electric shock collars for dogs and cats

  • Environment Secretary had been expected to bring in the ban on the devices  
  • But Michael Gove hinted in the Commons that the ban will be toned down
  • Suporters of the collars say they stop sheep and pets wandering into roads 

Michael Gove has hinted that he is preparing to drop plans for a total ban on electric shock collars for cats and dogs.

The Environment Secretary had been expected to bring in the prohibition as part of his mission to transform the Tories into the party for animal lovers.

But critics have hit out at the plan – warning that their pets are kept alive by the collars which stop them wondering away and getting hit by cars in the road.

And in a coded exchange in the House of Commons yesterday, he suggested some pet owners will be allowed to continue using the devices. 

Tory MP John Hayes, who uses the collars on his cat, quizzed Mr Gove about his plans  by quoting from a book of cat poetry by TS Elliot which was used as the basis for the musical Cats. 

The Environment Secretary Michael  Gove (pictured outside No10 on Tuesday) had been expected to bring in the prohibition as part of his mission to transform the Tories into the party for animal lovers

Mr Hayes asked: ‘Will the secretary of state, a noted cat owner, stand alongside those friends of felines, or will he send TS Eliot spinning in his grave and many cats to theirs, too?’ 

Mr Gove replied by quoting the opening line of TS Elliot’s famous poem, The Waste Land, to suggest that the plans will be toned down.

He said: ‘April is the cruellest month. 

‘But this April will not be a month in which cruelty towards any living thing will be tolerated. 

‘We want to introduce legislation to ensure that the use of shock collars as a means of restraining animals in a way that causes them pain is adequately dealt with.

Bonnie, the dog belonging to The Daily Mail’s sketch writer Quentin Letts, has an electric shock collar

‘[Mr Hayes] raises another important point in that containment fences can play a valuable role in ensuring that individual animals, dogs and cats, can roam free in the domestic environment in which they are loved and cared for.’  

Sir Steve Redgrave, the Olympic gold medallist who uses an electric collar to keep his Old English sheepdog in his unfenced three-acre garden, welcomed Mr Gove’s comments. 

He told The Times: ‘I am delighted that the government is moving towards a decision not to ban containment fences. 

‘I agree with Michael Gove that they are a valuable way of giving pets the freedom of the nation’s gardens and I am convinced, from my own experience, that they are not in the slightest way cruel.’  

Mr Hayes said: ‘The consultation process has shown how important containment fences are to the welfare of our nation’s cats and dogs. 

‘It has confirmed what academic evidence has shown — just how important they are in protecting pets from road traffic accidents.’  

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