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Tag: veterinary school

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The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New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

Police dog Bosco fights to walk again

Bosco, a police dog shot twice while on duty in Zanesville, Ohio, is fighting to walk again, and the community is chipping in to help provide his therapy and around-the-clock care.

Bosco and his partner, Officer Mike Schiele, were shot Aug. 23 while Schiele was attempting to serve two warrants on Dominick Conley. Schiele is back home recuperating from his leg wound, but Bosco, who was shot in the neck and chest, remains at the Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital in Columbus.

Bosco has been making progress, according to veterinary school updates. He is beginning to stand on his front legs for a little while, and is working to stand on his hind legs.

Zanesville Police Chief Eric Lambes said the first week of care will probably cost $6,000 to $10,000 and Bosco is expected to remain at the hospital for several weeks, the Lancaster Eagle Gazette reports.

Lambes’ assistant, Linda Highfield, said hundreds of letters a day have poured in, most with checks for Bosco’s care. “It’s just been amazing,” she said. “They don’t stop coming and they’re coming from all over.”

“The story has made our hearts melt,” said Denny Walker, whose car dealership donated $1,200 for Bosco’s care, raising the money in a fundraiser held at Tri-County Chrysler in Heath. “He put his life on the line for his partner, and you just can’t ask for more than that.”

In addition to monetary donations, a former K-9 handler from South Carolina sent a wheelchair that he used for his own dog. “I know how important your dog is to you when you are an officer and that the K-9s are a great asset to any department,” said the donor, Michael Grazioso. “My heart went out to Officer Schiele when I read the story, and I just wanted to do something to help. If Bosco has to have a chair, then he’s got mine.”

Highfield said she has received offers of other dogs for the department in case Bosco is unable to return to work. “Before we even think about accepting another dog, we’re going to see how it goes with Bosco. We’re hoping he’ll be able to make it back.”

Donations so far exceed $5,000, Highfield said.

In addition, MedFlight of Ohio, which transported Bosco to Columbus the night he was shot, decided to forgive 90 percent of the bill. “We have to be responsible to our company, but we also felt that it was very important Bosco get help as quickly as possible that night and this is the right thing to do,” said Todd Bailey, director of the business division for MedFlight.