Stop Devocalization of Dogs and Cats in Massachusetts

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Status: Current
Originally Posted: 11 February 2009

Stop Devocalization of Dogs and Cats in Massachusetts

Animal Law Coalition has drafted a bill to ban devocalizing or silencing of dogs and cats in Massachusetts except in limited circumstances. In dogs it is called "debarking".

If you live in Massachusetts, please call your state representative and senator and ask them to co-sponsor An Act Prohibiting Devocalization of Dogs and Cats, sponsored by Rep. Lida Harkins.

INFORMATION

Animal Law Coalition has drafted a bill to ban devocalizing or silencing of dogs and cats in Massachusetts except in limited circumstances. In dogs it is called "debarking".

A grassroots effort led by 15 year old Jordan Star is underway to pass the bill, An Act to Prohibit Devocalization of Dogs and Cats. Rep. Lida Harkins is the sponsor and there are already numerous co-sponsors.

We need your help right now. Lobbyists for commercial breeders are working overtime to convince Massachusetts legislators not to support this bill. There is stiff opposition to this bill from puppy millers, cat millers, backyard breeders, hoarders, dog fighters owners who believe they should be able to do what they want with their animals, and the like.

If you live in Massachusetts, please call your state representative and senator. Remember: Ask your representative or senator to co-sponsor An Act Prohibiting Devocalization of Dogs and Cats, sponsored by Rep. Lida Harkins. A copy of the bill is attached to this article. Get friends, neighbors, family members, colleagues, fellow students to do the same. Legislators need to know we expect them to join their ranks. If you don't live in the state, send this link to someone who does and also call Massachusetts representatives and senators and urge them to support An Act Prohibiting Devocalization of Dogs and Cats, sponsored by Rep. Lida Harkins. Please don't wait. Do it now.

Email lauraallen@animallawcoalition.com or CPRPets@aol.com if your representative or senator asks for more information or a copy of the bill.

If your representative or senator is already a co-sponsor, write or call and thank them!

What is devocalizing or silencing?

Devocalizing or silencing is a painful surgical procedure to remove or cut the vocal chords. This procedure can cause paralysis of the larynx, difficulty in breathing, and adverse reaction to anesthesia. An animal may be forced to undergo multiple surgeries because of regrowth of tissue. This is not a simple procedure as some may tell you.

The proposed legislation would make it illegal for anyone to surgically devocalize or silence a dog or cat. There are exceptions to protect the health of the animal. Only in rare instances would surgical devocalizing or silencing be medically necessary.

More typically, surgical devocalizing or silencing is a cruel, inhumane act done for the convenience of the owner. It does not address the problem causing the barking such as stress, fear, loneliness, frustration, illness, injury, poor socialization, lack of training, and instead is akin to cutting the vocal chords of a noisy child.

Dogs and cats that cannot vocalize their intentions, moods or needs present a risk to the public and increased liability to pet owners. People may not realize a dog is about to bite or attack, for example, because the dog has not barked, and because he has been debarked or silenced, can only make a wheezy, rasping sound. A dog that cannot bark also cannot signal danger to family members, for example, from an intruder or a fire.

Also, devocalizing or silencing enables illegal activities associated with dogs and cats: Owners trying to avoid pet limits, licensing or nuisance laws may simply debark their pets. Worse, commercial breeders hiding the numbers of dogs or cats they have and the squalid conditions in which they are kept, notoriously rely on surgical devocalizing or silencing. Surgical devocalizing or silencing allows hoarders to go undetected for too long. Dog fighters also use surgical debarking or silencing to avoid detection of their criminal activities.

Making surgical devocalizing or silencing a crime will, in fact, give law enforcement and prosecutors another tool in investigating and prosecuting dog fighting and animal cruelty as well as enforcing regulations for commercial breeders.

Please support this important legislation.

Thank you!

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