Devocalization of Cats and Dogs

by Michael
(London, UK)

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.

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.

Michael Avatar

From Devocalization of Cats and Dogs to Declawing Cats

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Devocalization of Cats and Dogs

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Apr 18, 2011 Response to Sophie Re Use of Picture
by: Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets

Hi Sophie

Our volunteer network, which sponsored and led the successful campaign to pass Massachusetts' law banning canine/feline devocalization, owns the copyright on the picture and also these videos.

Meet devocalized dogs:

Hear what animal experts have to say:

We will consider granting reprint permission but need to know how and where you plan to use our materials. Please email us at

Thank you for your interest in ending devocalization! Like declawing, it is an act of butchery performed for the convenience and profit of humans.

Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets

Apr 18, 2011 photo
by: Sophie

Would it be possible to use your picture for some debakring coursework?

Oct 05, 2010 My Thanks ...
by: Gingie

My thanks to the State of Massachusetts for passing "Logan's Law" and to Beth who is an awesome Animal Rights Activist and leader!

Oct 05, 2010 My Thanks ...
by: Gingie

My thanks to the State of Massachusetts for passing "Logan's Law" and to Beth who is an awesome Animal Rights Activist and leader!

Sep 29, 2010 Massachusetts ROCKS!!!!
by: Roofer

I'm proud to say that I live in Massachusetts!!! Let's hope this becomes a NATIONAL LAW and our animal friends will be heard for many years to come!!!

Sep 24, 2010 Thanks Massachusetts!
by: wolfgirl

Thanks Massachusetts for passing this humane legislation and saving dogs and cats from risky and painful vocal cord surgery for convenience sake.
Let's hope that other states will move ahead with legislation to ban devocalization, and that the federal bill favorable to this cause will eventually pass.

Sep 23, 2010 The other 49 states: Take notice
by: Charlotte's Tangled Web

Once again Massachusetts leads the way for the rest of the nation.

Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets (CPR) is to be congratulated. They made this happen against all odds.

Their grassroots effort beat lots of money, highly paid lobbyists and special interests.

Other animal lovers in other states - take heed. You can do this in your state, too.

Sep 20, 2010 DeVocalizing and Declawing is just plain BAD
by: LorrEnn

Thank you for your report on what's going on here in the US. I applaud that the UK is already aware of these things and has already banned them. Someday, maybe soon, the breeders will finally see animals as individuals and not as money-making schemes.

Sep 20, 2010 Debarking is double-trouble for Iditarod dogs
by: Margery Glickman

Debarked dogs who race in the Iditarod are more prone to aspirate their own digestive juices. When dogs are racing intensely and are gasping for air all the time, they're constantly aspirating or inhaling any vomit or digestive juice that comes up in their mouth. This sets them up for life-threatening aspiration pneumonias. Debarking means double-trouble for Iditarod dogs.

Sep 18, 2010 Ban Devovalization
by: Heather Schofield

I am so glad that Edgar and Bessie can meow and tell me what they are feeling, if they are in distress or if they are just being vocal and happy. No dog or cat should be deprived of that expression. I am so pleased that Massachusetts has passed this important law and I hope other states and other countries will do the same.

Sep 17, 2010 Diana
by: Diana Cartier

Our legislators here in Massachusetts were persuaded to pass our ban against devocalization only because it became very clear, both from a poll and many, repeated call-ins, that this bill had overwhelming public support. Thus, breeders and alas, our state veterinary organization, among others, who lobbied strenuously against this humane bill, were defeated.

Devocalization goes on because a large majority of the public is not even aware it exists (when informed, most people grab their throats in obvious empathy) or if they do know, they are told it is a "last resort" to save the animal's life. Testimony from shelters and other experts have put the lie to this misinformation from profiting parties.

More people are aware of declawing, equally inhumane, but they do not understand the truly crippling nature and behavioral ramifications of this harmful and cruel bone-cutting.

Getting the truth out is essential. Grass-roots action has been proven to work Let's go!

Sep 15, 2010 Veterinary Support of Animal Welfare Legislation
by: SeussMom

It would be so refreshing to see veterinary organizations support this legislation, rather than fight it. Obviously, money 'makes the world go round' in this profession like most... If they stepped up and did so, less veterinarians would be willing to perform this, even if legal.

Sep 15, 2010 Evil triumphs when...
by: Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets

...good people don't speak out. (Apologies to the British statesman who coined the original phrase.)

Feeling outrage when we confront images of cruelty like the picture above, or hear the stories of victims, like those shared in the videos is the first step. But nothing will change until we turn our compassion into action.

The group of people who passed Logan's Law banning devocalization in Massachusetts did so without funding, staff or a formal organization. Most had never been politically active before.

Yet we succeeded against powerful lobbies, without help from the two leading and extremely well-funded--thanks to donations from animal lovers--animal welfare organizations in Massachusets.

You can succeed too. File a bill to ban devocalization of dogs and cats wherever you live. Legislators work for you, not lobbyists for animal-exploitive special interests; you can hire or fire them with your vote. Own your power.

Use your voice for those who have none.

Sep 14, 2010 Next..a nationwide ban on devocalization!
by: Terry

I am so happy that Mass. banned devocalization of dogs and cats.
It is clearly inhumane and unnecessary. This needs to go national and we need to help and support other states ban this cruel practice.

Sep 14, 2010 Animal lovers around the world: Tell it to the AVMA!
by: Kat Chopinski

Great post, Leah! It would be wonderful if civilized people around the world would express those sentiments to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which sanctions declawing and devocalization under the cloak of "only as a last resort." Nonsense!

How could that ever be enforced? The short answer is it can't. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Only enforceable laws will protect innocent dogs and cats from being mutilated to suit an uninformed, irresponsible or lazy owner--or one who considers them profit centers and sporting equipment rather than companions.

Tell the AVMA its policies on declawing and devocalization should mirror those of the UK; anything less disgraces America and the veterinary profession. The AVMA must take an unequivocal stand against convenience and cosmetic surgeries on domestic animals.

It and state VMAs from Massachusetts to California must stop lobbying against laws to prohibit these inhumane procedures, whether by opposing them outright or by inserting language to dilute them.

It's high time for AVMA and state VMAs to align with animal protectors rather than exploiters.

The whole world is watching.

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
Phone: 800-248-2862 Fax: 847.925.1329

Sep 14, 2010 Depravity
by: Leah (England)

The words and concept of de-clawing and de-barking should not even exist. They are both examples of the depravity that humans will sink to because we are at the top of the food chain therefore we think this gives us the right to do as we want just because we can.

Seems that if this occured in a less developed country there would be utter outcry from all the big animal welfare organisations. That country would be labled as barbaric and everyone would trot off to educate the natives. Not so in America & Canada it seems. Probably bit too political and lets face it it all boils down to politics and money at the end of the day; animal welfare rarely seems to figure on any political agenda.

The picture just says it all doesn't it? If I showed it to my friends and family they would not believe that this was done in America and worse they would be utterly shocked and disgusted that it was done legally and not some callous act of brutal animal cruelty.

Sep 13, 2010 thank you
by: Tracy

Thank you for helping to spread the word about what we have done here in Massachusetts. I am a veterinarian who has had opposition from fellow veterinarians about making devocalization illegal. Any positive PR we get is much appreciated.

Sep 13, 2010 another sick human practice
by: kathy

You dont cut out your babies voice when they cry or devocalize your 4 year old when they are screaming all over the neighborhood. Living near a park makes me wish some of these practices could be used on certain children. My Savannah tends to be vocal at times. We are lucky none of our cats are crybabies. they only think their human so they try to talk to us. Lia has the most pitiful meow when he wants to go on the deck with me. How can I explain to him that the fleas are so bad he cant come with me anymore. As I write this there is a child screaming bloody murder in the library. OK wheres the justice for all these abused animals???

Sep 13, 2010 Devocalization of Cats and Dogs
by: Maggie

I'm ashamed to be Australian because this cruel procedure is legal here. It's funny that we ban declawing, but we still allow devocalization. I've never heard of it in cats, so I'll have to do further research on the devocalization of cats in Australia, but it's common for dogs here... Mans' best friend?? What a load of rubbish!!

This is a cruel procedure, it's just as cruel as declawing. As it's one of those procedures which are for our benefit, and prove to be non-beneficial in anyway to the animal involved. These procedures disadvantage animals and cause them to suffer. We, as humans, have no right what-so-ever to take away an animal's body part for OUR benefit... And as long as devocalization is legal, the bark of a dog and the meow of a cat will be music to my ears! Especially that of my own cats and dog.

Sep 13, 2010 Aren't Vets Supposed to Be Above This?
by: Bristie

It is so important for all of us to put pressure on veterinary associations to make them step up and embrace animal protective legislation rather than continuing to fight it! Even my own holistic vet would not break ranks with MVMA or AVMA. Shameful!

Sep 12, 2010 Let Stop This World Wide
by: Frank

I always ask if they would devocalize their children.

Sep 12, 2010 Mutilate my cats? Unimaginable
by: SherylCatMom

Just as I started typing this, my 21-year-old cat began howling. It's something older cats sometimes do. I checked on her and she's fine. I just tried to imagine feeling so annoyed by her meows that I would pay a veterinarian hundreds of dollars to surgically silence her. I could not even imagine going in that direction. It's her life and I am here to help her through it as long as she is on this earth. Ban convenience pet mutilation? Of course! Why is this even still a question?

Sep 12, 2010 Modern Mengeles
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Those vets who perform devocalization are not true to their medical oath. They are no doctors, but modern Mengeles!

Finn Frode avatar

Sep 12, 2010 boycott them
by: Anonymous

Yes boycott all vets who declaw or devocalize animals.

They are corrupt money grabbing disgraces to their profession.

Anyone using these vets is condoning their uncaring unfeeling cruelty.

Sep 12, 2010 Who would devocalize a cat?
by: Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets

Some ask who would devocalize a cat. Well, the same mentality that impels a person to declaw a cat or devocalize a dog applies to devocalizing felines: The notion that animals are put on earth for our profit and pleasure, to buy, sell, cut to conform to our expectations and dump when they don't.

Even though the insistent meowing of a domestic tabby whose needs are not being met or the bellowing of a house full of Siamese may not bother the neighbors, these unfortunate felines may be devocalized because their keepers don't want to hear them.

We have encountered breeders--including a breeder of tiny Chinese Crested dogs--who devocalize for that very reason.

Shame on vets who devocalize, typically for breeders, and declaw for lazy, irresponsible or uninformed pet owners. Shame on the veterinary associations that fight legislation to prohibit these mutilations--professional associations ought to uphold a higher ethical standard, use their vast resources to educate and enlighten their membership.

Finally, the veterinary associations' claim that devocalization and declawing prevent abandonment is self-serving rubbish.

Convenience surgeries don't keep animals out of shelters. Humane, responsible people do.

Talk to your vet. Make sure s/he doesn't devocalize or declaw. And if s/he does, you might consider moving on. Why entrust your best friend to someone who performs medically unnecessary surgery?

Meet devocalized dogs:

Hear what animal experts have to say:

Sep 12, 2010 Thank You for the education~..~!
by: Susan

Americans have NO idea how often companion animals are devoiced in our country - - both dogs and cats alike have their throats & vocal cords cut by veterinarians to silence them.

I can tell you through my rescue work that debarked dogs are found as strays (abandoned by their owners) and relinquished to shelters just as often as dogs that haven't had their throats slit because of thoughtless humans & vets robbing them of their vocal cords. Debarking does NOT save an animals life or keep them in their homes, just like declawing does NOT saves animals lives or keep them in their homes. Yet the vets continue to use this fraudulent claim in order to justify their criminal actions. So it's of no surprise that it was the Vets and Breeders that opposed Logan's Law - these groups use animals as commodities to make money & don't think twice about slashing & cutting them up for profit or convenience.

I applaud CPR Pets for their outstanding grassroots work they have done on behalf of devoiced animals, not only in Mass, but they have set the precedent for our entire country to follow to protect animals from this atrocity. It's the grassroots efforts that get it done in our country - BRAVO CPR Pets!

Sep 12, 2010 It must be banned
by: Ruth

Bad enough the devocalization of dogs but to do it to cats is beyond human understanding.
How loud and irritating can a meow be ?
To me a meow is the most beautiful sound in the world, along with a purr of course.
Barks and meows are the way those animals talk, as is speech the way we humans talk.
What next ? Stop cows mooing, horses neighing ?
Devocalization is another cruel operation none of the vets I worked for would ever perform and is another procedure that should be banned worldwide.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Sep 12, 2010 Devocalization of cats and dogs.
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

A picture tells a thousand words is absolutely true regarding the ghastly operation on devocalizing cats . Why keep or maintain a pet when it is not allowed to live and lead its normal life? Some of us humans are really a strange species.


Devocalization of Cats and Dogs — 8 Comments

  1. I recently inherited my sisters purbred Himalayan cat which was devocalized and declawed and had a very bad neutering experience at the hands of a butcher. Needless to say she is a very traumatized cat, I would love to find the vet that did this to her and have him prosecuted! Don’t know if it is illegal in California but should be. Now I’m dealing with a very scared cat any suggestions on how to build her trust?

    • It is shocking to read your comment – thanks for commenting. The only way you can build trust is patience and tons of TLC. If that won’t do nothing will. I hate these butcher vets who declaw brutally badly. People should use vets to a minimum level and never for declawing and devocalising.

  2. In such a case I would recommed you letting your cat go on the street or give it to someone else. Either she is not compatible with you as owner (they feel you hate it when seeing her in the morning), so do not say she has a lot of love, either you are not meant to have cats as pets.
    When we have small babies, they wake us up in the middle of the night, screaming for food. When they grow older, they can easily get spoiled and make fun of us in public screaming they want toys. When they are teenagers, they can argue with us in loud voice if not having had proper education. Should we euthanise or devocalize them?
    I am the owner of a vocal boy cat. A black, funny and sweet Egyptian Mau. I would not be able to live without hearing him chirp when seeing me – I know he loves me and that he is happy I am there. Without hearing him chirp when I get closer to him when sleeping – this means he is happy I am there. He does meow at nights, but I know this is what they do and I talk to him. You may not believe it, but he actually listens and after 15 or 20 more minutes he stops. You might think I am jobless this is why I put up with this. No, I am not. I work on 2 jobs, and I am very tired sometimes… but guess what?? When he sees me sick, or tired or sad, he climbes up to me in bed and tries his best, with his emerald eyes, which can throw the sweetest glares ever, to make me feel I am not alone, and that he is there to make me feel better…and no noise until he knows I am better. He had been a house cat since he was found abandoned near a trash can when he barely opened his eyes. He is not sterilized, but he does not spray around the house, he always uses the litterbox BECAUSE HE HAS CONTINUOUS ACCESS TO IT. So when he feels the need to do something, he goes there. The smell is always controled because I have an open window near the place (in the bathroom), and the windoe has a net so he can not go out. He has had some funny ideas when trying to hump on my husband’s leg when he felt the heat, but a fluffy toy took care of that as well, and extremely rare when he is not eating because of heat, I would give him medicine. He is not yet 1 year old, so I can not castrate him yet. But the medicine issue happens in extreme cases (he only needed them once).
    Do us a favor, and a favor to your soul, do not kill that sweet kitty…leave it on the street unharmed, as she will be happier without you around, or give it to someone who will honestly love her.
    And about scratching.. he has TRIMMED CLAWS!! I would never have him declawed. I would declaw pickpokets or rapists, or child and women abusers.. but not an innocent and loving pet who, if trained properly, will get to scratch an old piece of carpet (like mine does), or a pose, or a piece of thick cloth sewed on the part of the bed which he likes to scratch.
    When we get a pet, we need to make him or her a family member, not that piece of living toy which is supposed to endure every pain we put him or her through. Then after showing us he or she is alive and changes behaviour, we throw away like a piece of garbage.
    I am not angry.. I am very sad about people like you who would hurt an animal because of not accepting him or her are living creatures.
    LET HER GO AND GET A FLUFFY TOY CAT!! That does not meow, does not spray, does not scratch….BUT WILL NOT LOVE YOU EITHER!!!

  3. I understand and have read all of these arguments against devocalization many times. I would like to know what you propose a pet owner do when their cat is played with daily, has no medical conditions, has plenty of space, food and clean water, clean litter, company and love but still moans, meows, screams and screeches all day and all night. At what point dose this the sanity of the pet owner get considered?

    Since isolation, ignoring, spraying, startling, and punishment generally are also considered to be animal abuse also I have no idea what options are left a pet owner who has not had full nights sleep in five or more years. Perhaps it would be more humane to put these animal down?

    • Why not rehome this poor cat seeing as she gets on your nerves so much, let her go to someone who would love and appreciate her as a talkative cat, many a lonely old person would love her vocal company.
      Would you have a talkative human member of the family killed?
      BTW cat ‘owners’ don’t get a full nights sleep, it’s the nature of cats to be crepuscular and cat lovers love cats for who they are.
      If your sleep is so precious then why not shut her in another room overnight.
      Remember cats lives are very short in comparison to ours, regrets and feelings of guilt are too late when those short years are gone.

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