Use Your Voice for Animals in Massachusetts, So They Can Keep Theirs: Ban Devocalization

There probably aren’t many people out there who don’t appreciate a little peace and quiet now and then, but there are some who will go to the extreme of having their pets devocalized, or debarked, to get it.

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.

While 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.

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 that would ban devocalizing dogs and cats in Massachusetts, unless it’s done for medical reasons.

All of this is the result of a grassroots effort, led by 15 year old Care2 member Jordan Star, who filed the bill with help from the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets. Star who also worked on a bill to ban pet renting in Massachusetts, said this “turned into something way bigger” than he thought it would and he’s since gotten support from state Sen. Scott Brown, in addition to other legislators.

The bill is also supported by organizations including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Angell Animal Medical Center, Animal Law Coalition, Buddy Dog Humane Society, Friends of the Plymouth Pound, Marblehead Animal Shelter, MassPAWS and the MSPCA, among others.

You may be wondering who would actually be in favor of devocalization. The answer would be the usual suspects…

According to ALC, “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.”

For more information about devocalization visit the Animal Law Coalition.

If you live in Massachusetts please contact your state legislators and ask them to support An Act to Prohibit Devocalization of Dogs and Cats sponsored by Lida Harkins. The hearing is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on July 14th at the State House in Boston. 


creative commons


liz c.
liz c8 years ago

Way to go David my friend. Nice to see you here stating your valuable opinions. 10 lashes sounds good to me------

David B.
David B8 years ago

anyone who would do this to there dog,deserves to loose the dog and receive the lash(10)would be approiate i believe! no treatment afterward,thank you very much.why would anyone even consider such a horrific action? i just don't understand.if you don't want your dog to bark get a cat!! oops no .your prolly the kind that would have it de-clawed cause your pretty furniture got touched!

liz c.
liz c8 years ago

We are all on the same page as far as this topic is concerned. It is horrific to even consider doing this. I am warmed by the thought that all of us that have commented believe that this should be outlawed universally. I live in Canada-and I have heard that many Vets will not de-claw cats nor de-vocalize dogs. I hope that this is the truth-it would be gratifying to know that some Vets worldwide would refuse this type of sadistic surgery.

Anna Borsey
Anna Borsey8 years ago

Dear Lord, Master of the Universe, I had never even heard of this practice until very recently. Why are humans so callous, wicked and cruel to helpless, innocent creatures?

If you do not want to listen to a dog/dogs barking then DO NOT HAVE A DOG! They "talk" by barking; this is their most important method of communicating!

Devocalization of dogs and declawing of cats - I should like to see both surgical procedures carried out on a great many human beings instead! Possibly this just might deter some evil individuals from harming another living being (human or non-human) ever again. Well, it is a devout hope - it probably would not have any real effect as cruel, evil people just carry on being what they are, no matter what punishments are meted out.

I hope and pray that this barbaric mutilation is MADE ILLEGAL EVERYWHERE and SOON! ! !

Julia R.
Julia R8 years ago

What is it about the human race? What gives us the right to make animal's life a misery? People who dislike dogs should not own them! Simple! People who dislike animals do not deserve to live! There is something seriously wrong with people who are cruel to animals in any form! I would not miss these people if they ceased to exist ~ In fact I would welcome that situation.

Kimberly Anderson

I thought "bark collars" that shock the dog's throat when it barks was cruel enough, but this is the most inhumane thing I have ever heard of(I can think of a few humans that could use it though,lol). Declawing cats is another torturous thing humans do to pets so they won't inconvience them. If you can't handle the responsibilities that go with owning a pet, then Don't Have Them!

Sue L.
michelle m8 years ago

There are other ways to stop dogs from barking. Obedience training works. Debarking is cruel and needs to be baned.

Judy S.
Judy S8 years ago

What kind of maniac thought this little trick up? Do not have pets if they annoy you in any way!

Connie B.
Connie B8 years ago

Somtimes my dog gets carried away with barking
in the house and it can be annoying, but I would never take his voice away. I love him
a lot !!!!

denise p.
denise p8 years ago

SKY W says how i feel