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Pet owners urge ban on dog devocalization

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A controversial procedure performed on dogs and cats known as devocalization or debarking has upset animal lovers, who are now pushing to have the surgery outlawed.

Debarking involves surgically removing an animal’s vocal cords to reduce the sound of the animal’s vocalizations.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Susan Rawson told WVIT. Her adopted 11-year-old Collie, a former show dog, was devocalized by his previous owner.

“It’s like declawing cats, or taking the voice box out of a baby,” she added. “That’s how they communicate, that’s how they talk. So I think it’s very cruel.”

Massachusetts and New Jersey are the only states to have banned the surgery, which critics decry as mutilation for the convenience for pet owners.

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“Debarks are also a big problem because if the pet ever needs anesthesia in the future, the scar tissue that forms in the throat prevents the insertion of the correct size breathing tube — making anesthesia even more of a risk for the pet,” Dr. Cary Waterhouse of Lake Union Veterinary Clinic in Seattle explained to KVUE.com.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says the surgery should only be performed if “the animal is at risk of losing his home or his life.”

The procedure is banned under the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. The United Kingdom has also outlawed the surgery.

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