Only a Cut-Throat Would Devocalize a Dog or Cat. My thanks to Beth of the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets for this photo.
I would like if I may to write once again about this abusive procedure. Elisa first wrote about it and I followed up with a report on the passing of Logan's Law. Logan’s Law was named after "a show dog, whose breeder had him devocalized and didn’t want him when he stopped winning ribbons."
The devocalization of cats and dogs is clearly as brutal a process as declawing. I would bundle them together as the worst examples of veterinary abuse. And to talk of "veterinary abuse" is very strange but sadly it is true.
I am in touch with Beth of the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets (CPRP). She has kindly provided me with the best information available on this subject and I would like to spread the word a bit more. I sometimes use the words provided by CPRP.
Logan’s Law is the first state law banning devocalization of dogs and cats. It took effect in Massachusetts on July 21, 2010. It was sponsored by CPRP. This wonderful organisation is "an unfunded, all volunteer network of Massachusetts pet owners and other concerned individuals".
The law was opposed by the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs (MFDC). They both profit financially from the devocalization of cats, and dogs (in the case of the MFDC).
The use of the word "debarking" is misleading as the operation is performed on cats as well. CPRP make the very valid point that it is important to write and speak about devocalization using the correct terminology as it makes the protest/campaign more effective through clarity. Also people who support devocalisation and declawing love to use what I call "weasal words" and they twist and turn, using language in a misrepresentative way. We need to stop them using our words against us. Beth makes these useful examples that I have summarized slightly:
It is difficult to know exactly how frequently this operation is carried out but the CPRP encountered, "hundreds of devocalized dogs and some cats (while campaigning in Massachusetts). The scope of this cruelty is likely greater but cannot be quantified." The people who request it and who do it keep quiet about it for good reason. It is obviously completely unacceptable and morally reprehensible.
The people who ask vets to devocalize their dogs are usually breeders, show dog exhibitors, sled dog racers and hoarders. Breeders request the operation to keep their breeding operation quieter to avoid problems of nuisance. Very few pet owners request it.
The devocalization of cats and dogs is a risky surgery that carries no benefit to the cat or dog - obviously. It is purely for the convenience of people; people who make money out of cats and dogs.
In fact the operation, as expected, is highly detrimental to the cat or dog. There is a risk of hemorrhage and infection. Scarring is common and may result in "a lifetime of gagging, coughing and difficulty breathing...and could lead to premature death by heat stroke, choking or aspiration pneumonia." The operation is inherently risky and it is irrelevant how skillful the vet is. Corrective surgery is not uncommonly required.
The devocalization of dogs can simply mask what may be behavioral problems created by the dog's owner. Devocalisation does not keep dogs and cats out of shelters.
As mentioned the operation is carried out for one purpose: the convenience of people. It is abusive and uncivilised. It is a clear and cynical breach of the vet's oath to harm a dog or cat in this way. Shame on all those who participate in it.
We will be incorporating a protest against devocalisation into our anti-declaw protest in St. Louis in July 2011.