Dori Edwards, Global Animal
Sue Perry and Karen Mahmud are guardians of rescue dogs whose vocal chords have been surgically removed in a process called “devocalizing” or surgical muffling. Together, the duo has started an online petition requesting that the American Veterinary Medical Association condemn this invasive procedure.
Mahmud, who adopted her chihuahua Lola from a rescue organization, says she watches her canine companion suffer from constant coughing. Perry recalls when her Newfoundland, Porter, first tried to bark, she was horrified.
“It’s very, very upsetting,” said Mahmud. “I would never think that it’s ok to put a dog under needless torture. If a dog barks, a dog barks.”
The two women, who originally helped the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets outlaw “debarking” in Massachusetts, are now seeking to extend the law nationwide. Their petition addresses the 82,500 members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the largest coalition of veterinarians in the United States.
According to the AVMA, this surgery, medically termed venticulocordectomy, removes the animal’s vocal chords through the mouth or an incision in the throat.
The organization rejects “debarking” unless it is deemed a “final alternative” in cases where the dog would be otherwise abandoned or euthanized. Perry and Muhmad believe that this exception still condones the cruel and unnatural surgery.
Supporters of the procedure believe debarking allows families to keep their dogs during instances where the barking would have caused eviction from households or influenced pet guardians to simply give up on their companions. However, those in opposition feel there are other options to discourage dogs from barking, including extensive training.
Joel Woolfson, a board-certified veterinary surgeon in private practice in Medway, Massachusetts, claims that those who would consider the procedure for their animal are “just too lazy to try other approaches. Or they are just insensitive to the fact that it’s a procedure that can cause some suffering.”
While many critics agree, the surgery steals a dog’s primary means of communication and can also affect the animal’s ability to eat and breathe due to scar tissue from the procedure.
Woolfson maintains, “This procedure is done strictly for the convenience of people who don’t want to hear or are annoyed by their pet’s vocalizations. It has nothing to do with the health of the animal.”
So far, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as well as all the entirety of Europe have outlawed this inhumane practice.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal has also condemned “debarking,” releasing a statement that the group “does not support the use of surgical procedures that attempt to circumvent the behavior issue while exposing pets to unnecessary discomfort and risk.”
This surgical procedure robs canines of their natural and instinctual abilities. Help Perry and Muhmad and sign the petition to help outlaw the surgery nationwide.