We came across the recent position of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association regarding the practice of “debarking” or “devocalization” in French.
The CVMA “discourages the devocalization of barking dogs unless it is the only way to avoid euthanasia and all other humane treatments and management methods have failed.” Inhumane methods, such as electric shock collars, should not be used.”
The practice of devocalization was banned in France in 2004 and we thought it was the same in all countries… It is not so.
1. what is devocalization?
This cruel procedure involves removing part of a dog’s vocal cords to reduce the volume of their barking. After being anesthetized, an incision is made directly into the animal’s larynx.
The sound emitted by the dog becomes much harsher and therefore less audible to the human ear.
2. What are the risks?
Devocalization can lead to multiple infections, laryngeal paralysis, or airway stenosis (Excess scar tissue builds up in the dog’s throat, making it difficult to breathe)
The dog can no longer use barking to prevent an attack or stop a behavior. From then on, the risk of being bitten by the dog or by another dog against him is greatly increased.
Dogs who bark in the absence of their master to express their discomfort will do so in another way, by destroying furniture or through self-centered behavior (licking or biting their paws). It’s the same principle for anti-bark collars.
3. The arguments of the defenders of devocalization
Proponents of “debarking” consider this to be the best solution in the event of complaints from the neighborhood.
According to some of them, dogs do not realize the drop in the volume of their barking because they continue to bark. They also think that “devocalized dogs are happier. »
Veterinarian Sharon L. Vanderlip, who has performed this operation for more than 30 years, told the New York Times in 2010: “The dogs recover immediately and they don’t seem to notice the difference. I think in some cases devocalization can save a dog from euthanasia. If done correctly, they behave the same and don’t seem to have any health issues. »
4. State of the legislation
The devocalization procedure is totally prohibited, except for medical necessity (cancerous tumor for example) in the 23 countries that have signed and ratified the European convention for the protection of companion animals. It is also banned in Great Britain.
In the United States, many states still allow it. The debate is ongoing among Americans who will certainly ban this barbaric operation soon.
Australia permits devocalization in situations where a dog is considered “too distressing to the community” (repeated complaints from neighbors). However, it is specified that the law “does not approve of devocalization as a replacement for appropriate behavioral or educational therapy. »
The vast majority of other countries in the world have no legislation regarding devocalization, leaving it up to veterinarians to do as they see fit…
As behavioral canine trainers, we intervene each year on hundreds of dogs to treat barking problems. We achieve this perfectly, as long as the intervention is done quickly and the masters are involved in the behavioral therapy put in place.
It is The only solution humane, effective and long-lasting in the treatment of barking problems.
Sources: The Straits Times, My Paper, The New Paper, AVA, Humane Society
Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Interest Alliance, The New York
Times, The Huffington Post, Australia’s Victoria State Government,
stopdevocalizationnow.org, Council of Europe Treaty Office