Petition Against Devocalization Seeks More Signatures

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Two women who adopted dogs debarked by former owners have joined together as advocates trying to ban the procedure after witnessing what it had done to their own pets.

Sue Perry and Karen Mahmud are asking for more signatures on their petition asking the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) to alter its position and stand firm against devocalization (otherwise known as debarking) surgery for dogs and cats. As of this writing, the petition has 134,957 signatures and is looking for 115,043 more.

Perry and Mahmud joined the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, which helped ban the procedure in Massachusetts. Currently, Massachusetts is the only US state with a full and outright ban in place. In September of this year, Governor Brown of California signed a bill prohibiting landlords from forcing tenants to devocalize their pets. The petition to the AVMA represents the other part of a two pronged approach to stop the practice.

Those interested in adding their signatures can access the Petitioning American Veterinary Medical Association, Tell Veterinarians: Devocalization is Mutilation! petition HERE.

In the video below, the petition organizers introduce viewers to their dogs, adopted after they’d had the procedure.

56 thoughts on “Petition Against Devocalization Seeks More Signatures”

    • Modern devocalization is done using a laser. It is humane and the recovery time is minimal. Some dogs cannot have their barking behavior corrected by training and some people do not have the time, the skill, or the patient neighbors required for such training. Moreover, people and dogs can find their homes at risk by increasing numbers of localities that have noise ordinances with minimal tolerance for barking dogs. Why are people hellbent on removing the availability of a tool that can be used to help people and dogs in such situations? Do people really *want* to send more dogs to shelters?

      • I Guess You Have Never Witnessed A Dog Trying To Bark And Couldn’t. What If We Started Altering Humans Vocal Cords Or Typing Ability? C’Mon, Who wants To Hear A Person With Torrets Syndrome Scream Out A Curse Word In Church? Or An Irate Poster On A Blog? ;o(

        • I had a Miniature Pinscher who came to me devocalized. She lived out her life as a happy and healthy little dog that had no trouble eating, drinking, or communicating. Your argument comparing dogs to humans is specious and I won’t entertain it or respond to it.

      • If the owners do not have “the time or skill” they shouldn’t posses ANY pet.
        Would you in a place that silenced you or your children.. Do you WANT to live with intolerant neighbors? First silencing dogs? What next?
        Regardless HOW its done, devocalizing any animal is WRONG PERIOD.
        What happens when this poor animal is in danger or injured and has no way to attract help?
        Use any friggin justification that lets you sleep at night.. but its WRONG WRONG WRONG. If I ever found out my vet did this I would boycott the practice!

        • Trying to deprogram a dog that finds barking to be self-gratifying is not like teaching a dog to sit. It’s like obsessive-compulsive disorder in human beings. Some people can break their cycle through counseling or medication while others just learn to live with it. If you live in an area with ordinances that demand seizure of a dog that barks “excessively,” then devocalization is a viable option instead of euthanasia or surrendering the dog to a “shelter” where it may be destroyed.

          • There are PLENTY of other viable options than resorting to this. I’m sorry but I don’t agree with this procedure.

          • Sure, you can resort to mood-altering or personality-altering drugs. That’s a viable option. Why *not* poison your dog for the rest of its life?

          • Then Perhaps One Should Go To The Local Shelter/Humane Society And Get One That Is Not A Barker.

          • “Most” Shelters Today Only “Humanely” Euthenise As A Last Resort. It Is Not Humane To Take An Animals Voice (Their Communication).. And BTW; There Are Many “No Kill” Shelters Out There. And I Still Haven’t Heard Why Anyone Would Alter A Cats Ability To Communicate

          • Anonymous you are very wrong. States do still have gas chambers and many lose their life for lack of room.

      • Please know that I do not know Kim….While I am not a fan of debarking, Kim is not trying to be inhuman or unkind in her reply to this disagreeable, yet at times necessary surgery….As a Dog Trainer of 40+ years, I can attest to the fact that some dogs, due to just their breed type alone, are impossible to control barking…..Add to that, incompetent dog owners and you have a recipe for animal abuse and abandonment….

  1. Life with Dogs brought this to my attention on Facebook. . First let me say Karen and Sue, you are amazing women. Your love for your dogs is so evident, and the strength you show in fighting this barbaric practice is admirable. I am signing the petition on behalf of my dog, Bosco, and for all dogs out there. I am going to share with all my FB friends as well.

    Thank you for making people like me aware of Devocalization, and for challenging the American Veterinary Medical Association to end it now.

    • So, you’re in favor of taking away another tool that keeps dogs in their home?

      • Pet Owners Should Realize What They Are Getting Into Before Getting A Pet. And If They Have A Pet That Is Noisy, They Should Not Rent Or Purchase A Place If The Pet Would Not Be Welcomed. I Had A Little Yapper (A Schnoodle) And Would Never Have Thought Of Altering Her Voice. It Was Her Way Of Comunicating. And My Son’s Schnauzer Was A Screeming Mess, But It Was His Way Of Expressing Himself. And WHY On Earth Would You De-Vocalise A Cat? My Cats Relax Me When They Talk To Me Or Purr.

        • Sadly, those places are becoming few and far between. What if you’ve lived for a long time in a particular area and suddenly the legislation changes to being anti-pet? It’s happening all over. Do you move? Why? Most people will end up giving up their dogs instead of their homes, and rightfully so if they have children that do not need uprooting. Bans are never compassionate.

          • If They Can Not Take Care Of A Pet, As Reponsible, Loving Owners, Then They Should Not Be Pet Owners, Or Find A Person To Take The Pet.

      • Kim Egan, you are a nasty piece of shite, how dare you advocate such a cruel and inhumane practice be carried out on defenceless, loyal, trusting family members/pets.

        Doing this vile act to the dogs, did NOT secure them in their forever homes, they were abandoned, and it took the courage of their NEW families to speak up for them, they did not deserve to be “de-barked”.

        I do not care if one way of doing this involves “humane” lasers, not all practices would do it that way, but that is not the point, the dogs do not need this treatment, nor should they be forced to loose their barks.

        • It’s fine to disagree with a person’s position, but if you need to resort to personal attacks then you’ve lost your argument right out of the box.

          • I agree with you Kim. There is no reason to attack someone if you disagree.
            As for dogs that find barking self-gratifying. You said the answer yourself even if you don’t see it. It’s reinforcing be it positive or negative to them for whatever reason. And yes it does have something to do with the environment (the antecedent.) And yes their happiness if you want to count lack of attention and care along with boredom. There is always a reinforcer gratifying or not. It’s up to a trainer to help you find the cause and teach you how to correct the behavior.

          • Marie, maybe you don’t understand what I mean by self-gratifying. For example, I had a dog that had good food, water, shelter, toys, attention, and was in good health. He was simply easily stressed, for whatever reason that he could not explain, since he lacked human speech. When he barked, he relieved his stress. If he received a positive punishment/negative reinforcer from an anti-bark collar, he felt stressed, so he barked to relieve his stress. Petting him and reassuring him reinforced the “positive” nature of his stress, so he barked to relieve it. The barking was on a feedback loop, essentially, that was impossible to break. I was fortunate in that I moved to an unincorporated area of my state in which he could bark to his heart’s content. If I had stayed in my apartment, he would have been debarked to keep him in my home.

          • Kim,
            First I’m glad you were able to move.
            Second of course a anit-bark collar would not work it’s inhumane.
            Third by petting him you were only reinforcing the cause.
            And yes you are right for what ever reason it was self-gratifying for him or is. However all behaviors have a cause.
            Bottom line is you could find the cause for his barking be it stress related or not. And condition a more gratifying behavior for everyone.

          • Marie, anti-bark collars are tools. They are not inhumane; however, they can be abused. The point is, I used many different tools to try to correct the behavior. I have been a certified dog trainer since 2003, so I know a little bit about dog training and behavior. To say that “all behaviors have a cause” is simplistic. It does not take into account neuroses, which might be “causes” in and of themselves, but they may not have an apparent trigger. Sadly, the dog in question died a couple of years ago. He developed uncontrollable seizures and needed to be put to sleep. I believe that he had some kind of brain issue that caused the barking, but we will never know for sure.

          • Kim I’m sorry you lost our dog. Have a feeling you and I will never agree on the “tools” you mention.
            All behaviors do have a cause and I never said it could not be caused medically.

        • You are quite passionate in you abhorrence of Ms. Egan but, I can’t help wonder as to how well behaved your children are….

  2. Not for or against (sine honestly have no knowledge about this isue), but I clicked this article to become informend on the topic.

    “former owners have joined together as advocates trying to ban the procedure after witnessing what it had done to their own pets.”

    But no where in the article do they state what the effects on the pets have been.

    If you want someone to sign a petition give them some facts.

    • Watch the video. One of the dogs had to have thousands of dollars worth of scar tissue removed and he still has breathing problems.

      Besides, barking is a way for a dog to communicate. You wouldn’t remove the vocal cords of your child cuz he won’t stop screaming, would you?

      • Children are not dogs. Children have a better understanding of the human world than dogs can ever possibly have. In any case, dogs that have been devocalized are still able to bark. They just do it more softly than others.

        Just because a vet did a poor job devocalizing a dog does not mean the procedure should be banned. The vet should be censured, possibly. But there are many procedures on human beings that are performed poorly and are still beneficial. Would you ban knee replacements just because some people can no longer walk after they are done? Many more people benefit from them, but because a few doctors are should be incompetent they should go away.

        • I’m sorry, but if a dog’s barking is such an inconvenience, then don’t have one. Simple as that. There is absolutely no reason for this procedure unless there is a life threatening issue. Dogs will bark, it’s what they do. And I don’t know about you, but the dogs “barking” in the video didn’t sound like they were barking quietly, it sounded like they were struggling. It’s not fair to them for a person to take away their communication. They had no say in it.

          If you don’t have the time or skill to train a dog to stop barking, then don’t bother getting one. You don’t deserve them.

        • Read A Story Today Where A Dog Saved His 10 Year Old Human From Being Hit By A Car. So Don’t Tell Me That Pets Are “Just Animals”, And Incapable Of Knowing Things.

  3. truly horrendous. the vet who performed this should be struck off or whatever they do to vets. poor little dogs.

  4. De-vocalization did NOT keep the dogs in this video in their homes, so in what manner is this a beneficial tool? They are fortunate that their adopters have the means to seek treatment for issues arising from the procedure. If barking is an issue, then a dog should not be considered as a pet, period.

    • T.J., what if a person lives in an area that has passed new legislation that is unfavorable to a barking dog that he or she already owns?

      • Kim, There are trainers that can help find the reason for a dog barking. What is in the dogs environment that causes the dog to bark and is either reinforced and maintained by positive or negative reinforcement.
        As for dogs that sit outside in a kennel…….I think you can figure out the answer to that.

        • Anonymous, it would be lovely if you had the guts to post under your name. However, I’ve already addressed this issue. Some dogs find barking to be self-gratifying. It has nothing to do with their health, their environment, nor their happiness.

          • I Could Post Under Any Name I Wanted Too. And; All These Anonymous’ Are Not The Same Person. Personally, I Evidently Don’t Need The “Egotistical Gratification” That You Do.

  5. Kim, even self-gratifying behavior can be corrected. I have seen it done numerous times and have “cured” my dog from such a behavior (not barking) myself, and I am not a dog trainer or dog professional. It takes time and vigilance and patience and assertiveness, but it can be done.

    You do raise valid points, but I still disagree.
    Surgically altering an animal to make it more “compatible” with human wishes cannot be the answer. If your dog digs under your fence, will you amputate his front legs? If he jumps on people or fences (can also be neurotic behavior), do you break his hind legs? If he chases lights incessantly because someone played with a laser pointer too much (neurotic!), do you have his eyes removed?

    Removing a rear dewclaw doesn’t help me as a human, but can help prevent injury for the pet, so is not the same as a procedure that only you and your neighbors benefit from.


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