The plot thickens. Defra is planning to ban dog e-collars despite there having never been a prosecution for misuse, its admission that its science doesn’t justify a ban, and its consultation revealing only 8% support for a ban. The 300,000
barbaric dog torturers loving dog owners who use them would, if Defra goes ahead, be forced to keep their pets permanently on the lead to stop them attacking livestock. Or put them down.
So why did Defra suddenly feel the need to rush through these emergency powers to criminalise dog lovers when current legislation already has tough anti-cruelty measures? This is a classic case of a department not building policy on science but being led by the nose by campaigning charities.
Senior MPs facing outraged constituents are saying that Defra is relying on the “animal charity” defence in justifying a ban. So surely these charities must be extraordinarily virtuous if Defra is willing to ignore conventional yardsticks of science and public support?
Enter the Kennel Club. Two weeks ago, The Times reported that the civil war enveloping the club had become so severe that its solicitors had sent a “muzzling” letter to the club’s members. The Times described “a culture of fear” in this “badly managed… vindictive and spiteful” organisation.
Enter Dogs Trust. Last month Ofcom ruled that its most famous member, Eamonn Holmes, had presented a programme on e-collars that misled viewers through both its total bias and its failure to disclose that Holmes was a patron of Dogs Trust. Guido readers will be delighted with how Ofcom’s ruling ridicules the programme’s claim that the e-collars were not “politically controversial”. This was on the grounds that “Eamonn spoke directly to camera at the end of this item and said: ‘If you agree with the Dogs Trust… lobby your MP. All the details are on the screen and on our website right now.’”
And the RSPCA. This other key supporter of Defra’s ban was, according to The Guardian, given a “damning rebuke” by the Charity Commission in August. For a charity to get not just an “official warning” from one of the world’s most tolerant regulators, but also an edition of Panorama outlining its failings, is quite an achievement.
Since Defra doesn’t believe in the science it commissioned, nor the respondents to its own survey then you would hope its key stakeholders would be a little more savoury.
Yet what do you expect from money-grabbing businesses? The Mayfair-based Kennel Club is described by The Times as “a highly successful business,” while Dogs Trust makes £106m a year and the RSPCA £143m from monetising the British love of animals.
Some of their leaders no doubt have genuine concerns about whether e-collars are a net contributor to animal welfare. Others might have been attracted by an emotive issue which would keep donations rolling in. Yet the dirty little secret is that Kennel Club and Dogs Trust are both focused on growing their dog training businesses. What better way to grow this business than to ban the technology used by 300,000 dog owners to control their pets without paying for expensive dog whisperers?
Defra has been played by some capitalist wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
This is the third of four articles. Tomorrow at 09:30 – it’s lambs to the slaughter: Dead Sheep Savage Michael Gove