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Shut Up Dog or I'll Have Your Vocal Chords Removed

By Alicia Graef on Care2.com

Unfortunately, some pet owners who are looking for a little peace and quiet may choose to have their pets devocalized, or debarked, to get it. If you missed this last time around, you can read the full post here.

Devocalizing involves a not so minor surgery with a high risk of complications that uses either an oral approach, or a laryngotomy that essentially results in cutting or removing an animal’s vocal chords, a controversial procedure many veterinarians will also refuse to perform.

“One snip of soft tissue in the back of the throat is the most painful thing. Many times, the dog has to be re-operated on because the membrane grows over it. It’s not good for the dog. It’s only good for people,” according to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and renowned animal behaviorist.

This type of quick fix also does nothing to encourage responsible pet ownership, and is an easy way out of working on behavior modification.

Some who are in favor of this “convenience surgery” argue that it can help animals who may otherwise be surrendered to shelters due to barking. However, debarked dogs still wind up in shelters and may also have a harder time finding homes, since some may find the wheezing, raspy or throaty sounds they make even more bizarre and irritating than barking.

Once devocalized, dogs also lose their ability to communicate and socialize normally, which may cause frustration and lead to behavioral issues, along with making them potentially dangerous to people without their ability to give warnings when they’re upset.

As the result of a grassroots effort led by Care2 member Jordan Star, the Animal Law Coalition (ALC) has drafted a bill, An Act to Prohibit Devocalization of Dogs and Cats (H.B. 344), sponsored by Rep. Lida Harkins, and co-sponsored by numerous others, that would ban devocalizing dogs and cats in Massachusetts, unless it’s done for medical reasons.

Currently the bill is still waiting in Committee, and is getting some opposition from the likes of puppy mill breeders, hoarders, dog fighters and those who think they can do whatever they want with their pets because, well, they’re just a piece of property, right?

If you live in Massachusetts, please take a minute to contact your legislators today asking them to support HB 244 as written. If you don’t know who your legislators are, call 1-800-462-8683 or find your Massachusetts representatives, fill in your address and then look for "Rep and Senate in General Court."

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