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Petco announces that it will end sales of pet ‘shock’ collars

The company is planning to establish itself as a health and wellness-focused brand in 2021

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Photo (c) Ziga Plahutar - Getty Images
Petco announced Tuesday that it will stop selling electronic “shock” collars for pets. 

The products -- which deliver electrical pulses when an unwanted behavior is exhibited -- have been labeled as “controversial” by the Humane Society. Animal rights groups have argued that they cause animals unnecessary distress. 

Aware of the potential harm these collars may cause, Petco will be pulling the collars from its shelves and website. The retailer is doing so, in part, to align itself with its mission of becoming a health and wellness brand.

"Electricity may be critical to powering your microwave, but it has no role for the average pet parent training their dog," Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said in a release. "Shock collars have been shown to increase fear, anxiety and stress in dogs, and we believe there's a better way – Positive Reinforcement Training.” 

In addition to causing pain, Coughlin added that the collars have the potential to be abused. He referenced viral internet videos that show people doing normal activities and being unexpectedly shocked by a shock collar. 

"You see those human shock collar challenges," he said. "They're funny, but sad because pets don't know what's coming their way, and they didn't ask for it to happen."

“Stop the Shock” movement 

In the year ahead, the pet supply chain plans to rebrand as “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co.” 

“As a health and wellness company, our mission is focused on improving pet lives and we think selling shock collars does the opposite,” Coughlin said. “It's our responsibility to ensure that we, and others, aren't putting potentially harmful products in the wrong hands."

Petco is hoping its action will encourage other pet retailers to halt sales of all human- and bark-activated electronic pet collars. The company has started a petition to have these collars regulated and used only by certified training professionals. 

“We're calling on the rest of the pet industry, pet parents and anyone who loves pets to help us create new guidelines, engage in responsible self-regulation and consider legislative change for the retail sale of certain shock collars to general consumers,” the company said in the petition description.

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