There has been an outpouring of rage over the arrest of a Salem, Oregan man on Tuesday for using a shock collar on his four kids because he “thought it was funny.” The 41-year-old father is accused of using the shock collar to “torture” his children ages three to nine and was charged with four counts of criminal mistreatment in the first degree. Although it is surprising that someone would get pleasure from scaring and tormenting their children, what is even more surprising is the reaction of the police who investigated the case.

The officers who investigated the case used words like unimaginable and disturbing to describe the man’s actions. One of the investigating officers went on to say “we shouldn’t have to tell people in our society not to do things of this nature.” Why is this reaction so surprising? Because the practice of using shock collars on dogs as a “training tool” is still so widely accepted. Why is it unimaginable, disturbing and considered torment when a device is used on a child yet it is OK to use it on a dog? We know dogs are not human but that does not negate the fact that they also experience pain and fear. If the use of a shock collar made a child cry and run away, why is it considered effective to train dogs if we know that 90% of dog aggression has its roots in fear?

Victoria Stilwell describes the use of shock collars as disgusting, perverse and abusive. She like many other professional dog trainers and behaviorists has to deal with the fallout associated with the use of shock collars on dogs. From dogs who are nervous to offer new behaviors for fear of being punished with a shock to dogs that redirect aggression to people or things they come to associate the electric shock with, these types of collars result in problem behaviors in many dogs. Hopefully with the media attention being paid to the sad case of child abuse in Salem, more people will realize that these are inhumane products that are unsafe for children and our pets.

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