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Why is Devocalization of Dogs and Cats Legal?

According to Laura Allen, founder of Animal Law CoalitionH.B. 344, An Act to Prohibit Devocalization of Dogs and Cats, also known as Logan’s Law, has passed the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary, and should have been voted on by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. However, the bill is stuck because Rep. Vincent Pedone seems intent on killing it.

On Allen’s blog, she writes, “Pedone’s Third Reading Committee is only supposed to review bills approved by a committee for constitutionality or technical issues. There are no such problems with H.B. 344 and it has been approved by a committee. It is his job then to schedule bills for a final vote by the House of Representatives. Instead, Pedone is using this Third Reading Committee to impose his own view on voters by killing the bill before their representatives have a chance to vote on it.”

A dog often barks to alert us to danger. Why would we take away his voice? (Photo by Eldad Hagar of Hope for Paws.)

Pedone has called devocalization barbaric and inhumane. So it is puzzling as to why he doesn’t release the bill from the Third Reading Committee. “Pedone is playing politics with a bill that, by his own admission, will prevent animal cruelty,” writes Allen. “A December 2009 poll shows Massachusetts voting age adults oppose devocalization at a rate of 21:1. There were no differences by gender, age, or race.”

The Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets (CPR Pets), who sponsored this bill, says, “Lobbyists for the special interests that profit from devocalization may not be happy with these poll results. But fact is, they mirror our experience. As we canvas throughout Massachusetts, the question nearly everyone asks of CPR Pets is, ‘Why on earth is devocalization legal?”

How You Can Help
Call Rep. Vincent Pedone at 508-791-7400 and urge him to release the bill, H.B. 344, without amendments by opponents, for a vote by the full Massachusetts House of Representatives. If you get voicemail, leave your name, address, and short message of support for House Bill 344. Then try to call again.

I love hearing cats meow and purr.

The longer this humane legislation is held in Rep. Pedone’s committee, the less chance it will become law.

Also, please call on Speaker Robert DeLeo, 617-722-2500, and urge him to move H.B. 344 to the Floor for approval by the House without amendment by opponents. If the bill is amended, as lobbyists that profit from devocalization wish, it would be unenforceable, and vulnerable animals would continue to be maimed.

But I Don”t Live in Massachusetts
If you don’t live in the state, send this link to someone who does and urge them to support, H.B. 344. Everyone can call Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) at 508-460-9333. MVMA is opposing this bill. Tell them to support this bill to prohibit devocalization: Vets shouldn’t perform or sanction medically unnecessary surgery.

You can read the full story at Animal Law Coalition.

Great News: Update on 3/3/10
The bill has been sent to the MA State Senate.

23 comments to Why is Devocalization of Dogs and Cats Legal?

  • Thanks for this, Michele. I recently read another excellent post on this topic at Dancing Dog Blog, written by vet Shawn Finch: http://www.dancingdogblog.com/2010/02/how-would-you-like-to-be-debarked-a-vet-speaks-up/

  • I just read that article too. Thanks for letting us know.

  • I’m not sure why debarking is legal anywhere, to be honest. But then again, the AKC still very vociferously backs ear cropping and tail docking, and it’s possible that outlawing debarking might open the door to stopping those “fine traditions.”

  • I really don’t see how this could have become legal in the first place. I guess if there is no law against something, that automatically makes it legal. If a pet can’t speak, how are owners to know something is wrong with it? The kind of people who do this don’t deserve pets.

  • Sue

    Did you know that many animals are euthanized because their barking cannot be controlled? If given the chance, would you rather a dog live a silent life or be killed? This not a step I would take as I believe the inability to control a pet’s barking is usually the lack of good training by an owner. With that said, I would rather an animal live than die because their owner doesn’t take the time to properly train the pet.

  • The only reason this “procedure” is legal is that people are LAZY! Not only should it be illegal, but there should be severe penalties!! And let’s put tail and ear docking and claw removal on that list too.

  • I would love to see tail and ear docking and claw removal included. Claw removal is so cruel. First off it’s painful, and cats can loose their balance without their claws. Cats walk on their claws, and they shed the outer shell of their claws. When they scratch on a post (or your furniture–if he is not trained properly), he is shedding his claws.

  • Just reconnected with a high school friend who now lives in Massachusetts. He’s a real pet lover, and I’ve asked him to make a call.

  • Just a follow up. In your post you write “If the bill is amended, as lobbyists that profit from devocalization wish, …” Other than vets who perform the surgery, who profits (enough) from this procedure that makes it worthwhile to hire lobbyists?!

  • Thanks Rod, That’s just what is needed.

  • Clare

    Interesting article – When I first heard about this procedure I thought it was a joke and had to “Snopes” it as I couldn’t believe it was true….. When I researched more my heart broke. I cannot believe that this is permitted and the statement “I cannot believe we still have to protest this crap” comes to mind.

    Please can you start a topic on Care2 about this as I think this needs to have a HUGE audience as I really feel strongly against this. Or please let me know if I can use this article and copy / paste to this site myself… I would be happy to voice this issue for all the voiceless dogs and cats out there (and would add the link to this site).

  • Thanks Clare,
    I just joined Care2 and posted something about devocalization.

  • What a hideous and barbaric practice! I’d be happy to use Catnip Chronicles to help fight and eliminate it. We are stongly anti-declawing, too. Catnip Chronicles is free and non-commercial.

  • Thanks for offering to help. Today’s post is on anti-declawing. I will contact you privately.

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by doggybytes: Why is Devocalization of Dogs and Cats Legal? http://bit.ly/97H2EV via @michelechollow…

  • How horrible! Should we cut out the vocal chords of kids who cry? of musicians whose music we don’t like? of politicians whose views we don’t agree with? Sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me. It just is not natural. Sometime my dogs’ barking drives my crazy, but they NEED to bark. Get the owners and the dogs training on how to be well behaved!

  • Posted this on my facebook page. It would be good to get this information to all the colleges in Massachusetts.

  • […] If you haven’t read the article on devocalization, click here. […]

  • Dog Lover

    No one seems to understand that debarking is rare and that no owner gets it done for himself, they do it because the NEIGHBORS force them to. Of course training is the BEST solution for problem barkers! No one has ever argued with that! But your logic is faulty if you overlook the consequent issue: Is it kind to dogs to make it the ONLY solution? That means that the small percentage that can’t be trained has to die (and there is always going to be some untrainable ones, as well as some owners who just aren’t good at training, and some neighbors who will not accept the presence of any noise at all). That small percentage is all that the operation has ever been meant for. Towns, cities, condos, apartments all have the power to force an owner to get rid of a dog that has been declared a nuisance. No owner WANTS to debark their dog. They only do it reluctantly to be able to keep it or to save its life. And don’t you think the dog would rather be quiet than be dead? I don’t want ANY dogs to die. Apparently, a lot of people here do.

  • I have to disagree with you. I don’t think anyone here wants dogs to die; I know I don’t. Owning a dog is a big commitment of time, patience, and love–but we get so much back. Usually barking dogs are ignored or not properly trained. I can’t agree to devocalization for dogs or cats. My cat sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night to purr. It actually soothes me.

  • Kat Chopinski

    First, the good news: Gov. Deval Patrick signed Logan’s Law on April 22, banning devocalization in Massachusetts. I hope many of you posters will file similar bills in your own states. Animal Law Coalition and Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, the MA bill’s sponsor–an unfunded, all-volunteer network– can help.

    Now to answer a question: Yes, vets profit from devocalization; the Mass. Veterinary Medical Association’s lobbyists fought the devoc bill ferociously. The other special interest that profits from devocalization is the dog breeding lobby. Pet owners rarely devocalize. Breeders order this painful, unnecessary surgery to keep many dogs without complaints from authorities or because they like to profit from but not hear animals.

    Seems the only surgery breeders oppose is spay/neuter. Long as they get their money upfront, they don’t care how many unwanted animals, including purebreds, die an agonizing death in gas chambers or by the side of the road.

    AKC=All Kinds of Cruelty.

  • […] Why is Devocalization of Dogs and Cats Legal? « Pet News and Views […]

  • Gotta love mans be friend. Gotta love all dogs, I know I do 🙂