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Shanmugam and pet dog join campaign against electric and prong collars

Minister, who has four pet dogs, has a video message against the use of forced training methods




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Singapore — Law and Home Affairs Minister K posted a short video on Facebook on Friday (Jan 15) in support of a campaign against electric and prong dog collars.

The use of electric and prong collars to train dogs has always been controversial but outrage over their use intensified in Singapore last year after the couple running Exclusively Mongrels Singapore tried electric and prong collars on themselves to find out what it feels like for a dog to wear one.

Mr Gan Theng Wei, who is a strong advocate against the mistreatment of dogs, shared that the electric collar shocks the wearer without warning and said: “I expected it to be uncomfortable but I had no idea how painful it would really be.

“I had to remove the shock collar immediately for fear of being shocked again. It’s not just the physical pain that’s scary. The anticipation and not knowing when you will be shocked again is actually worse than the physical pain.”

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Although the prong collar felt “slightly less painful” than the electric version, Mr Gan said: “I removed the collar and was shocked to see red marks around my neck. And these marks were created by just very low controlled forces.”

Sharing photographs from their experiment, Mr Gan wrote on Facebook on Oct 17 that such aversive tools are meant to inflict pain on dogs physically and psychologically and should never be used to train dogs.

Days later, Mr Shanmugam’s fellow Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng filed a parliamentary question asking the Government to ban electric and prong dog collars.

The animal rights activist, who is the founder of Acres, also asked the Minister for National Development whether the ministry can provide a timeline for implementing the ban.

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On Nov 4, 2020, the ministry responded that the multi-stakeholder Rehoming and Adoption Work Group (RAWG), recently established to review practices related to the rehoming and adoption of dogs, will study this issue.

Noting that the National Parks Board will take enforcement action when animal training methods cause unnecessary pain or suffering to animals, the ministry highlighted other training methods that do not compromise animal welfare and urged the public to avoid causing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals.

A month later, veterinarian Dr Liang Xutian launched a campaign to dissuade the public from using aversive animal training tools. Dr Liang and her team are selling T-shirts with anti-shock and prong collar messages to raise awareness on this issue and have roped in prominent figures like politicians and celebrities to bring more eyeballs to the cause.

Mr Shanmugam, one of Singapore’s longest serving politicians, is perhaps the most well known individuals who has lent support to Dr Liang’s initiative. The heavyweight minister, who has four pet dogs, wore one of Dr Liang’s T-shirts and made a video message calling on the public to refrain from using forced training methods.

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While petting one of his dogs in the short video, Mr Shanmugam called Dr Liang’s campaign a “great initiative” and said that he is “happy and proud” to wear one of the campaign T-shirts. He added: “Dogs are for us to love and they show a lot of love. Let’s treat them with kindness, let’s all make a difference.”

The campaign organisers said Mr Shanmugam also made a “very generous donation” to the initiative, aside from contributing a video message.

Others who have supported the “Say NO to electric collars, prong collars and choke chains” initiative include Mr Louis Ng, comedian and actor Kumar, fashion director Daniel Boey and others in the entertainment industry. Since Dec 31, the campaign has raised $8,920 from the sale proceeds of the T-shirts and another $6,740 in the form of donations.

Anyone can support the campaign by purchasing a T-shirt HERE. Proceeds from the sale of every T-shirt purchase will go to the training budget of five animal welfare groups (AWGs). The AWG beneficiaries are Chained Dog Awareness Singapore, Purely Adoptions, Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter, Exclusively Mongrels Singapore and Action for Singapore Dogs. /TISGFollow us on Social Media

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