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Tag: debarked

Reconsidering my stance on debarking

Up until now, I’ve been pretty much against debarking — a surgical procedure whose proponents like to call it “bark softening.”

But this video makes me realize that, possibly, in some cases, it may be justified.

New York Times looks at debarking

What do some Westminster show dogs have in common with some drug dealers’ attack dogs?

They’ve been debarked.

The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New York Times reported this week.

There are no reliable figures on how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, but veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can  be found in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.

David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, acknowledged that some show dogs have  the operation. “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries,” he said.

Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds, and some states have banned it, except for therapeutic reasons, including New Jersey. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

In the surgery, vets anesthetize the dog before cutting its vocal cords, either through the mouth or through an incision in the larynx. Dogs generally recover quickly, veterinarians say, and while they usually can still make sounds, their barks become muffled and raspy.

But Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, said the procedure can lead to complications, such as excess scar tissue building up in the throat of dogs, making it difficult to breathe.

Ellison said the procedure is no longer taught at the University of Florida’s veterinary school.

Banfield, the Pet Hospital, with more than 750 veterinary practices across the country, formally banned the surgery last summer.

“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done “after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed.”

Devocalizing dogs, devocalizing citizens

Those hoping to speak their mind about a bill in Massachusetts that would ban devocalizing dogs found themselves effectively silenced this week.

The Judiciary Committee hearing — because of the committee’s decision to hear 227 bills in one day — saw debate cut off on a number of bills, including one that would ban the process of cutting or removing a dog’s vocal cords.

Backers of the bill (H 344)say (or would have, anyway) that the procedure causes unnecessary harm to dogs, puts dog-owners at risk of being bitten without warning and can lead to infection of dogs’ throats.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) did get a chance to speak in support of the bill, which was proposed at the urging of a Needham High School student, Jordan Star, who after encountering a dog that had been devocalized, felt it was morally wrong. The bill if passed, will be known as “Logan’s Law”, named after a Belgian Sheepdog that underwent devocalization surgery and was later abandoned.

The bill would make it illegal to devocalize a dog unless it is medically necessary to treat an illness or disease. The law would be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2500.

The Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA support the bill.  The Massachusetts Veterinary Association is opposed to the bill and worries that the bill “does not make debarking available as a last resort to save an animal’s life or home”.

The Judiciary Committee was forced to cut off testimony Tuesday from speakers on a range of topics, from gun violence, to sexual assault and a bill to add gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination statute, according to a report in the Wellesley Townsman. Advocates for various bills privately questioned why the committee would schedule so many contentious bills for one hearing, and some said they would have to leave without testifying because of the long waits.