Dogs and Cats in Massachusetts Have Their Voices Heard:
Debarking Banned

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Dogs and Cats in Massachusetts Have Their Voices Heard:
Debarking Banned

From Tonic.com

On Wednesday, Massachusetts will become the first state to ban the practice of debarking dogs and cats — a surgery that cuts or removes an animal's vocal chords because breeders and pet owners are sick of the barking and meowing.

Starting Wednesday, July 2, 2010, the cruel practice of severing or removing an animal's vocal chords will be illegal in most cases.

On Wednesday, Massachusetts will become the first state to ban the practice of debarking dogs and cats — a surgery that cuts or removes an animal's vocal chords because breeders and pet owners are sick of the barking and meowing.

"To take the voice of an animal would be the equivalent of taking a person's voice or a person's ability to communicate," Brian Adams, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), told Reuters.

Debarking — unless done as a medical necessity — will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Almost 60 state representatives and senators cosponsored the bill.

When debarking is performed on dogs, it is done mostly by commercial breeders for their own convenience, according to the Animal Law Coalition, an advocacy group based in New York.

The procedure leaves the dogs or cats with scar tissue in the throat can make it difficult to breathe, leading to a lifetime of wheezing, coughing and choking for some animals, Beth Birnbaum, a member of the Coalition to Protect Rescue Pets, the organization that originally filed the bill, told The Boston Globe.

The law is known as Logan's Law, which got its name from an adopted dog who was debarked.

Supporters of the bill say it is important for pet owners to understand why their cat or dog is making noise and use behavioral techniques to quiet them down.

Inspired by the Massachusetts law, US Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-MD, introduced a bill in May to support states that pass similar legislation to ban devocalization. The bill would authorize grants of up to $1 million for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

"This is so remarkable, the passage of this legislation,’’ said Birnbaum. “Beacon Hill should be congratulated."