Letter to Lord Benyon about banning the use of electronic collars on dogs

The Rt Hon. the Lord Benyon

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(Minister for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs)


17 August 2023


Dear Lord Benyon,

I am writing to express concern, including on behalf of my constituents, that your Government is rumoured to be backtracking from its commitment to end the use of electric shock collars in dog training.

The Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (England) Regulations 2024 are due for enactment in February 2024, but I understand that the pro-collar industry is claiming that the Government could be reviewing their position. I trust you will be able to confirm this is not the case and will announce, without further delay, a date for the final stage of the SI to pass through the Delegated Legislation Committee. 

Electric shock collars are an outdated, inhumane method to train any animal. Wales banned these e-collars over a decade ago in 2010. England is clearly falling behind with its own animal protection standards and we need immediate action to remedy this. Data collected by The Kennel Club this month shows the majority of the British public want to see a ban on electric shock collars – 77% believe the devices should be banned and, more widely, 56 per cent of dog owners don’t think your Government is doing enough to protect animals in the UK. I agree with those of my constituents who note that animals are legally recognised as sentient beings in the United Kingdom, and that allowing the use of e-collars does not honour this.

The Kennel Club, RSPCA, BVA, Blue Cross, Battersea and Dogs Trust tell me:

With regards to arguments around livestock worrying, numerous Government funded research projects have proved several times over that the use of these devices is unnecessary. As you have confirmed, Defra’s discussions with the National Police Chiefs’ Council have highlighted that the majority of livestock worrying incidents involve dogs that have escaped from their homes. In your own words, “these are cases that hand-controlled e-collars could not have prevented”. For the minority of livestock worrying cases which involve dogs being walked with an owner/walker, keeping a dog on a lead in the vicinity of livestock will be the most effective route to preventing livestock worrying, as recommended by the National Farmers Union. 

Keeping dogs on a lead in the presence of livestock also provides a clear visual indication to any farmer present, that the dog is unlikely to pose a threat to their livestock and maintains a clear and consistent example to all dog walkers while walking in the vicinity of livestock.

They also point to research from the University of Lincoln, which underscores that electric shock collars can have detrimental impacts on animals, putting their physical and psychological wellbeing at risk, and that e-collars do “not create a greater deterrent for disobedience.”

Following the recent abandonment of the widely supported Kept Animals Bill, it would be incredibly damaging if your Government were to now renege on its promise to ban devices that cause such unnecessary pain, fear and stress in animals. I therefore look forward to your response, confirming that you still intend to consign these outdated devices to the history books once and for all, and demonstrating this by setting a firm date for the relevant SI to go to Committee.

Yours sincerely,

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