Petco stops selling shock collars, promotes #StopTheShock movement

Petco announced yesterday that it will stop selling shock collars both online and in stores

Petco announced yesterday that it will stop selling shock collars both online and in stores in a move being hailed by animal welfare advocates.

The company operates more than 1,500 retail locations nationwide.

Shock collars are a controversial tool for training dogs. If a dog does something undesirable, like bark or jump, their handler can press a button on a remote-controlled device to deliver varying degrees of electronic stimulation to the neck of the dog as punishment. It’s also sometimes used to deliver a constant shock until the dog does something “right.”

Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco, said selling shock collars doesn’t align with the company’s mission of improving the lives of both pets and people.

“Electricity is fine for your microwave, but not fine for your pets, so we shouldn’t sell these things,” he told TODAY. “You have this poor, vulnerable, loving animal who had no idea they’re going to have this happen to them, and in our view, it’s inhumane.”

Shock collars are used to punish dogs for unwanted behavior.Andrien Trujillo / Courtesy of Petco

Coughlin said with so many people adopting pets for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to promote positive training methods rather than coercive techniques.

“The vast majority of folks that are coming into our stores and buying (shock collars) are just regular consumers that don’t know any better,” he said. “So we’ve got a job to make sure we’re providing the right options for them.”

When some people witness how their dog reacts to a shock collar, they never use it again. A recent Petco study that found 59% of pet parents surveyed would rather shock themselves than their dog, and Coughlin said shock collars are one of the most frequently returned products.

Petco is circulating an online petition encouraging others to #StopTheShock.