Debarking and Devoicing Cats and Dogs: A Travesty for PetsPublished July 14, 2009
July 14 is a special day for me. It's my birthday! I felt it would be fitting to make one heartfelt wish to celebrate my special event! I fervently wish that all people around the world would take a moment to really appreciate all the amazing animals that grace our planet, and make a vow to never do anything to harm them. I invite everyone to join me in my wish as well. Today, July 14, 2009, a special hearing will be held in Massachusetts to learn if HB 344, a bill introduced to prohibit the devocalization of dogs and cats will move forward to possibly be added to Massachusetts's existing state animal protection law. While there is a loophole in the proposed bill that permits this surgery to devocalize a dog or cat if there is a medical condition for which this surgery is needed, (and I cannot for the life of me imagine what condition would call for this very inhumane procedure). Breaking the law would put the practitioner at risk of punishment for up to 5 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of $2500. Needham High School student, Jordan Star, is the "earth angel" that inspired this bill. After meeting a dog that had been devocalized, she was so moved by what she thought was morally wrong, and was motivated strongly to take action to make an impact to protect dogs and cats. Democratic House Majority Whip Lida E. Harkins and Republican Senator Scott P. Brown reached across the aisle in a truly bi-partisan manner, to co-sponsor the bill. Should the bill pass, it will be named "Logan's Law". Logan, a Belgian Sheepdog was devocalized and then abandoned. Logan was adopted by Tom and Gayle Fitzpatrick. Gayle is the founder of the Friends of the Plymouth Pound, "a shelter that is "a tax-exempt, non-profit group dedicated to the rescue and adoption of abandoned cats and dogs on the South Shore of Massachusetts". Both the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States are supporters of this pending bill. The American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Association and the ASPCA all feel strongly that devocalization surgery should only be performed as a last resort. My personal feeling is that this procedure should be banned completely. It is not only a risky and dangerous surgery, which can cause infections and may result in hemorrhaging or aspiration pneumonia. This surgery is banned completely in the United Kingdom, as is declawing, and docking tails and cosmetic surgery on ears in dogs. Dogs and cats must be able to verbally communicate, not only to others of their species, but to all animals and, of course, to their human caretakers. If they have no voice, how will they be able "tell us" how they feel or to warn us of impending dangers? We all have read anecdotal stories about how cats have warned their caretakers, possibly saving their lives and of course we have all experienced a barking dog announcing a stranger on the premises, or even alerting their person to a serious threat. With compassionate, patient training and understanding about what motivates dogs and cats to "vocalize" excessively, we better understand them. Will you join me in my birthday wish? Leave a comment and let us know.