The RSPCA has expressed its concern about a rise in the importation of pronged dog collars, with the Australian Border Force recently announcing a seven-fold increase in the number of these cruel devices detected at the border.
Over the 12-month period from April 2020 to March 2021 (compared to the previous 12 months), the number of pronged collars seized at the border has increased from 56 to 477.
The metal collars consist of multiple protruding spikes and are designed to apply intense pressure and pinch a dog’s neck as a form of punishment-based training.
The collars are illegal to import into Australia but not illegal to use on dogs (except in Victoria).
“It’s worrying to see these inhumane collars are still being imported for use in the Australian community,” RSPCA Australia senior scientific officer Dr Di Evans said.
“The RSPCA opposes the use of pronged collars because of the direct pain and suffering they cause to dogs and the long-term impact of using punishment as a training method.
“We urge all members of the community not to buy or use them. Community pressure has been effective in reducing the online sale of these collars, but sadly, these statistics show they are still out there.”
Dr Evans added that many risks are associated with this type of punishment-based training, including aggression, fearfulness, anxiety, reduced learning and eroding the animal-human bond. Pronged collars can also cause physical damage to a dog’s windpipe and nerves, bruising of soft tissues, and in some cases have even punctured the skin.
“There are much more humane and effective training methods for dogs, which is why we support reward-based training—where dogs are set up to succeed and then rewarded for performing the ‘good’ behaviours,” Dr Evans said.
In addition to the import ban, RSPCA Australia has been strongly advocating for many years for other states and territories to follow Victoria’s lead by prohibiting the use of pronged collars under animal welfare legislation.