Prong collars create safety concerns for veterinary staff and can harm dogs’ well-being

January 18, 2017 – The San Francisco SPCA announced that it is banning prong collars from both of its campuses, including its veterinary hospitals, on January 24, 2017, in recognition of Change a Pet’s Life Day. The ban follows a yearlong educational campaign to inform the public about the serious harm prong collars can cause, including physical, behavioral, and emotional problems. Physical injuries can range from skin irritation to spinal cord problems. Behaviorally, prong collars can cause become more aggressive and fearful during everyday activities, like walks and vet visits.

“Prong collars create health concerns for our patients, and protecting their well-being is our priority,” explained Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, SF SPCA President. “Furthermore, prong collars can cause dogs to become more anxious and fearful, which creates a safety concern for other clients, patients, and visitors.”

In addition to welfare concerns, the SF SPCA is also banning prong collars to protect its medical staff. Veterinarians and technicians can easily harm themselves while trying to examine a dog wearing a prong collar.

“For several months, as part of our educational campaign, we’ve been suggesting that visitors remove prong collars while at our facilities,” explained Dr. Scarlett. “The response we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Most people want to do what’s best for their dog, and as veterinary professionals we want to help provide that guidance.”

SF SPCA visitors will be asked to remove prong collars and will be given a flat collar to use while on campus, and to take home for free, as a gift, if the visitor chooses.

“Prong collars are not safe or humane,” said Dr. Scarlett. “There’s simply no good reason to use them when more humane, positive, and effective training options exist.”

The SF SPCA recommends positive reinforcement training instead of prong collars and other aversive tactics. Positive reinforcement uses treats, toys, affection and attention to motivate and help teach desired behaviors.

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