Shocking News

Posted by Dana Campbell, ALDF Attorney on July 13, 2009

A recent news story caught my eye and I haven’t been able to stop considering its implications. Here’s the story: A man in Salem, Oregon was arrested and charged with four counts First Degree Criminal Mistreatment for “putting an electric dog collar on each of his four children and shocking them,” according to the Salem Statesman Journal newspaper. The paper claimed the father told police that he would chase the 3-year-old boy around with the collar, making him cry at the thought of being shocked, and that because of the boy’s reaction, it was likely the children were shocked more than once. The children ranged in age from 3 to 9 and have been removed to their mother’s custody. The case is still pending.

You know where I’m going with this, right? If it’s so outrageous and incomprehensible that a man would put a shock collar on his children and later use it to taunt them

and it is without a doubt all of that

why is the public not similarly outraged by its use on family dogs?  We may not all agree, yet, that bugs or crustaceans feel pain, but we are well past the point where we all agree that dogs feel pain, otherwise the whole premise of a shock collar

using pain avoidance to stay within a certain perimeter

would fail. So why is it a crime to inflict most types of pain onto companion animals, but shock collars get a pass?

Maybe it’s because the pain caused by the shock is perceived to be insignificant enough to warrant condemnation. A shock collar manufacturer quoted in the article was not reassuring. He claimed the 9-volt battery used in most collars would not have hurt the children to the point of damaging organs(!) or causing them to be hospitalized, saying it was less powerful than a police Taser (which have been known to kill people from time to time). So that’s the threshold for acceptability? He claims the collars “made today” would not burn a dog or human; however, here at ALDF, I have seen many photos of dogs burned by shock collars. Perhaps they have improved since I saw those photos, but I remain skeptical. The manufacturer then concluded by stating that the collars are not to be used on humans. Yet they are very widely sold for use on dogs, most of whom weigh the same or less than small children.

Curious, but not brave enough to try it myself, I surveyed my more adventurous male friends thinking one of them must have tried a shock collar on themselves on a dare or out of their own curiosity, and I was right. One fellow, a stocky former wrestler well over 6-feet-tall described the shock from the collar as: “painful, definitely uncomfortable, and not something I’d ever want to do again.” 

I’d like to see that inhumane father punished by electroshock, and then I’d like to see these collars shunned by the public as an outrage and outlawed in violation of every state’s animal cruelty laws. Pain is pain, and it’s illegal to hurt any of our loved ones. Or rather, it should be.

5 thoughts on “Shocking News

  1. P says:

    not all shock collars are bad, it is the person using them that needs to have responsibility. If the collar is used appropriately, and with the appropriate training then there can be benefits of use. I think that generalizing and saying that shock collars are wholey bad is a false statement.

    Many dog owners use the collars and have had the proper training. Do I think they should be allowed to be used without training – clearly no – i think that the collars should only be sold through trainers and when an individual agrees to sign up for a specified amount of training time with the collar to ensure proper use.

  2. Kirstan Sanders says:

    I absolutely agree that shock collar treatment is inhumane and, if it needs to be used, the owner isn’t creative enough and is too lazy to develop a working relationship with their dog. SO many times people jump on the easy way to train. Is it worth it? Not to me. I signed off on the heavy handed training methods when a better way was shown to me after I realized I was ruining my dog. He no longer wanted to work with me if I was constantly correcting (I didn’t use a shock collar but another ‘correction based’ method). We repaired and furthered our teamwork through consistency, fair and balanced work and play. We trained then with that dog (and do now with my current dogs) in drive and through play. NO need to shock your dog – just slow it all down and keep working. If someone NEEDS a win that fast, maybe the should rethink what they’re doing. If your dog isn’t having fun, then… how sad.

    Thanks for this article.


  3. Olivia says:

    I agree with Kirstan. If we wouldn’t want to be trained with a shock collar, then why would we use one on our loved companions? If we all lived the Golden Rule in making our every decision, peace on earth would prevail.

  4. Deborah Molsberry says:

    I agree with “P”, shock collars can be good if used appropriately. They are not the “easy way out” as someone else mentioned. In fact they take a lot of work with your dog. I am not aware of how all shock collars work but I do know that mine comes with a sound and then I deliver a low level shock (which I HAVE tried on myself and feels like a sharp pinch) if my dog does not respond to my command. It allows me to correct my dog instantly when he does something wrong… because we all know that by the time you catch your dog it is too late to punish him/her because by then they will not understand why you are upset. My shock collar has opened up a whole new world for my dog and I. He can be off leash and roam in the woods and I do not have to worry about him chasing deer and being injured by one… or bolting towards a road where he might be hit by a car. Many people forget that dogs are different than humans. We can not just tell them what we want. Most dogs are influenced by pain stimulus and avoid things that hurt them. So, yes, in order to save my dogs life from things that might harm him, I WILL use my shock collar. Now that my dog knows that a shock follows the sound if he does not listen, he hardly ever gets to the point where he needs the shock. There are so many benefits to a shock collar if you use it correctly. Unfortunately like everything else in life one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

  5. Shock collars are inhumane. Imagine scuffing your feet on a carpet and touching a metal doorknob 20-100 times per day. Think you’d be irritated? Yet, many dogs are “tapped” with these annoying reminders in similar fashion. So, the fact that a collar is on a lower setting can still be annoying to the point of severe frustration. We know that positive methods work as well, and often better than, shock collars when used properly, so why would anyone opt to cause pain intentionally when it’s unnecessary?
    Many countries outlaw their use and people and dogs are surviving just fine thank you. We should do the same.

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