Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
I am pleased to advise that the report from the Welsh Government-commissioned review into the policy intent behind the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010 (the Regulations) has today been published on the Welsh Government website.
When the regulations came into force, the then Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development John Griffiths AM committed to a review of the legislation taking place. I tasked Dr Ruth Lysons, MA MSc VetMB MRCVS, with carrying out this review together with Dr Nick Coulson, MA MBA PhD VetMB MRCVS who reviewed Dr Lysons assessment. Both are independent consultants.
The review has also been scrutinised by the members of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group who have accepted its findings.
The review considered all recent scientific evidence in relation to the welfare implications for cats and dogs arising from the use of electronic collars and taking into account evidence from the Electronic Collars Manufacturers Association (ECMA), the third sector and other individuals who submitted evidence. This was to set out the potential benefits and efficacy of electronic collars against the animal welfare concerns, in order to reach conclusions about whether their benefits outweighed the animal welfare costs.
Dr. Lysons concluded that the animal welfare cost is likely to exceed the benefits from the use of electronic collars as training devices, since they may cause pain, that effective alternatives exist, and the scope for misuse or abuse is too great.
The review also considered electronic fence systems and that too found that the animal welfare cost is likely to exceed the benefits from use of electronic fencing systems for both cats and dogs. Whilst there have been requests to be able to use electronic fencing systems for cats as road accidents are a big concerns and there are limited alternatives for keeping a cat confined, there are clear welfare concerns with electronic fencing for cats and very little published evidence from which to assess their use and relative benefits. Also on electronic anti-bark collars in controlling excessive barking, given the limited efficacy and the fact that alternative approaches are readily available, the conclusion is that the welfare cost exceeds the benefits for such collars.
Based on this advice I am content to retain the existing policy in Wales and advise that the Welsh Government will not be considering amending the existing legislation at this time.