A fifteen year old boy is working to have a bill passed that would make surgical debarking illegal. I know debarking is one of those hot button topics for many, but I have to admit, I see this as a good thing. I see debarked dogs at the shows all season long, and often there is reason behind their attempts to vocalize… It’s up to their families to find that reason and work with the dog. While a difficult nuisance behavior to deal with, recreational barking can be trained away from. It takes a lot of dedication, and watchfulness, but it can be done. And if the sound of a dog vocalizing is a mind-numbing pain for some, perhaps they should consider that before adding a dog (especially of a breed known for being highly “talkative”) to the family.
Teen files bill to make vocal surgery illegal
Putting a bite into debarking
By Laurel J. Sweet
Needham High freshman Jordan Star doesn’t 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.
“To take a voice away from an animal is morally wrong,” Star, 15, said of convenience devocalization, the removal of a pet’s vocal cords so Fido and Fluffy are seen, not heard.
Star tackled the topic after encountering a dog who’d been debarked, then abandoned.
“It was just horrible,” he said of the dog’s struggle to get his attention. “It was just like a hoarse, wheezy cough. In a shelter, all they are is a mutilated animal, which makes them harder to adopt.”
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. Anyone breaking the law would face up to five years in state prison and a mental-health evaluation. If enacted, it will be known as Logan’s Law for a debarked Belgian sheepdog Gayle Fitzpatrick, founder of Friends of the Plymouth Pound, and her husband Tom adopted from Texas.
“The reaction of people whenever he was outside was, ‘Does your dog have laryngitis?’ I tried to explain he had no voice box and people were pretty horrified by that,” Fitzpatrick said. “We always said to him, ‘We hear you,’ because he tried so hard to bark.”
The MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center refuses to perform non-medical devocalization, saying, “The responsible owner is willing to socialize and train a pet that is vocalizing excessively.”
Vera Wilkinson of The Cooperative Dog is a Chestnut Hill certified trainer, who heads the dog division of the International Association of Behavior Consultants.
“You have to get to the root of the problem. If the dog is barking, the dog is barking for a reason,” Wilkinson said. “There’s a lack of understanding between people and dogs that leads to conflict, and unfortunately the dog often pays the price.
Full story can be found at http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1149346