THE MANUFACTURERS of a gate which gives a mild shock if touched have been told they cannot have a stand at Crufts.
The company, Dofygate, was given the news by the Kennel Club a week ahead of the show.
They had been subjected to criticism on Facebook and when they contacted the KC they were told they would not be welcome.
The cost of their stand has been refunded by the KC.
Managing director Jim Alston said Dofygate – a new business – had been subjected to a barrage of comments on the social media website which he had tried in vain to counter.
Mr Alston, who co-designer of the gate – which retails at more than £2,000 – told DOG WORLD that his company had become caught up in the controversy surrounding electric shock collars.
A group of about 20 people had started posting comments a week before he contacted the KC, he said.
“I made every effort to counter their false assumptions, and at times extreme comments, until it got rather out of hand and I realised we were facing a losing battle,” he said.
“I rang the KC to make them aware of the situation in case they received any direct contact about our gate. They have refunded our stand costs and offered to help with any hotel costs, but we haven’t claimed for anything.
“This is a big disappointment. The objective of the gate is to keep dogs safe within the bounds of the owner’s property, and we were keen to get our new product to an audience at Crufts.
“We’re not out to create bad feeling; it’s just one of those things.”
The gates could not be compared to shock collars, he said.
“They are visible and static and no other party is involved in triggering the shock – which is more like static electricity, so it is consistent.
“Dogs contained by our gates are happy to stay just behind it and don’t display any sign of stress whatsoever as the boundary is clear and visible.”
He said the pulse emitted is far lower than that of an electric fence enclosing livestock, and likened it to the static sometimes felt when car bodywork is touched.
The gate is designed to keep dogs in a yard, garden or parking area while allowing easy access for vehicles or pedestrians,” he said.
“No shock is produced when the remotely-controlled gate is open and the shock is generated only in repose to interference.”
He explained that he had contacted the KC to tell them that the company had come under attack on Facebook from people unhappy with the shock element of the product. At first he was told there was no problem with them being at Crufts, but that he was contacted a couple of hours later to say they could no longer attend.
The KC told DOG WORLD: “We raised the issue with Dofygate and informed the company that the product was outside our policy with regard to positive training, and as such they graciously agreed to withdraw as they had no wish to cause embarrassment.”
The KC has campaigned vigorously against electronic training devices for many years.
Among the storm of comments on Facebook was Pauline Jackson who said she was pleased the stand would not be at Crufts.
“I would hate to see any of these devices marketed there,” she wrote. “Giving an animal a static shock is not humane.”
Helen Soper wrote that she was ‘so pleased to hear this product will not be on sale at Crufts!’.
“My dogs are part of my family – do you zap your children if they try to leave the garden as well?” she asked.
Allison Harris added: “So pleased you won’t be at Crufts. Way to go, KC!”
However, many people were in support of Dofygate. Animal Magic Dog Club said it was sorry to hear the news and that the gate should be viewed no differently than electric fences keeping sheep in fields.
“In fact, I wouldn’t think the shock your gate gives off is as great as the fence,” it posted. “The dogs soon learn to keep away, unlike a collar which the dog can’t avoid!
“What a ridiculous argument!”
One Dofygate customer wrote: “How crazy is this? We’re really happy with our Dofygate. The shock feels to me about the same as when you get a zap of static when you get out of the car sometimes on a hot and dusty day!”
Mr Alston said the pulse from the gate was so mild that customers often phoned him saying they are worried it would not deter their dogs.
“It is much less powerful than a stock fencer,” he said. “We have carried out exhaustive tests and it’s just enough to be effective.”
DW contacted several of those who posted comments on Facebook but received no reply.