Teen With Gumption Plans to Drive the Final Nail Into Debarking’s Coffin

I'd like to thank Doreen for forwarding a great article to Dogster HQ. The article, from the Boston Herald, discusses a Massachusetts teen's efforts to...


I’d like to thank Doreen for forwarding a great article to Dogster HQ. The article, from the Boston Herald, discusses a Massachusetts teen’s efforts to make debarking surgery illegal in his home state. Here is a quote from the article:

Needham High freshman Jordan Star doesnt claim he can talk to the animals, but as the surprise driving force behind a bill to outlaw the surgical silencing of dogs and cats, the teen is doing a fine job speaking on their behalf . . .

Under his proposed law, to which Democratic House Majority Whip Lida E. Harkins and Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown have signed on as sponsors, devocalization would be illegal in Massachusetts unless a veterinarian licensed in this state certified for a town clerk or, in Boston, the police commissioner, that the operation was a medical necessity.

And, in case you had any doubts about Mr. Star’s opinion of the sort of people who have their pets debarked, here is a particularly choice quote from the article:

Anyone breaking the law would face up to five years in state prison and a mental-health evaluation (emphasis mine).

I have predicted the demise of several controversial veterinary procedures on this blog. Tail docking and ear cropping have been covered a few times. I haven’t written much about declawing cats, but I will say now that I believe the practice is not long for this world. [Note: my original post contained a typographical error and omitted the word “not”. In fact, fewer and fewer vets are willing to declaw cats each year, just as fewer are willing to dock tails or crop ears.]

Until I read the article in the Herald, I had nearly forgotten that debarking surgery existed. Debarking involves removing parts of the vocal cords. It is a surgery with a relatively high rate of complications as well as a high potential for failure. Many “debarked” dogs can still vocalize. The harsh, throaty noises that such dogs produce can be much more unpleasant than a normal bark. Many among the dwindling number of vets who still crop ears, dock tails, and declaw cats balk at the notion of debarking a pet.

Vocal cord surgery is medically necessary when cancer or a syndrome called laryngeal paralysis strikes the voice box. But the practice of convenience debarking looks set to die a quiet death.

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