Ban on 'cruel' animal shock collars won't extend to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland could soon be the only part of the UK where electric shock collars for dogs and cats are not banned.
Used as training devices, the remote control collars can trigger an electric pulse of varying strength or spray noxious chemicals at the animal.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is this week expected to announce the move to prohibit their sale, the Mail on Sunday has reported.
The newspaper said the Environment Secretary has branded the collars "punitive devices" which "can cause harm and suffering, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to our pets".
Use of the collars has been banned in Wales, and earlier this year Scotland began moves towards prohibiting dog owners from using them.
The Government can ban the devices in England, and potentially here.
However, it has deliberately avoided introducing legislation affecting Northern Ireland while Stormont is not functioning, meaning it could be the only part of the UK where the practice can continue.
The devices cause dogs to yelp, squeal, crouch and exhibit physiological signs of distress, the Dogs Trust has previously said.
And despite being sold to improve the way dogs behave, they can actually worsen an animal's behaviour, the charity stressed.
Polling for the Dogs Trust earlier this year showed almost a third of people (31%) wrongly thought the collars, which can continuously shock a dog for 11 seconds, were already banned.