Devocalization, or debarking, is a controversial procedure done for no other reason than people not wanting to hear barking. While many vets refuse to perform it, it's still unfortunately legal in a lot of places – and it's putting animals at serious risk.
Now, a Michigan lawmaker is using his voice to help animals keep theirs with legislation that will make it illegal in the state.
A bill introduced by Rep. Tim Sneller would ban devocalizing animals, with exceptions for cases where it's medically necessary to treat an underlying medical condition. Any vets who want to perform the procedure would need to justify doing it to the board, while a companion bill would also leave vets who violate the law subject to animal cruelty charges, making it enforceable.
Four states have already banned this procedure, and there's no shortage of reasons why. Devocalization, or debarking, involves a not so minor that uses either an oral approach, or a laryngotomy, which essentially results in cutting or removing an animal's vocal cords.
Regardless of how it's done, this surgery comes with a high risk of complications, and it can cause a host of other medical problems, ranging from difficulty breathing and susceptibility to aspiration pneumonia to gagging and death. This type of quick fix also does nothing to encourage responsible pet ownership, or to ensure animals aren't surrendered to shelters – it's just an easy way out of working on behavior modification.
Once devocalized, dogs also lose their ability to communicate and socialize normally, which may cause frustration and lead to behavioral issues. It also makes them potentially dangerous to people since they don't have the ability to give warnings when they're upset.
Hopefully Michigan will be next to ban this inhumane and unnecessary procedure, but lawmakers need to know how much we support legislation that protects animals from cruelty.
Please sign and share this petition urging Michigan lawmakers to pass this legislation to make devocalization illegal in their state.