Petitioners call for end of debarking surgery for dogs - FOX Carolina 21

Petitioners call for end of debarking surgery for dogs

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One of Ann Allums' dogs who she has trained to not bark. (File/FOX Carolina) One of Ann Allums' dogs who she has trained to not bark. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Thousands of people online are joining together to sign a petition for the right to speak, but it's not about a human's voice. It's all about their pet's right to bark.  

Often called devocalization or debarking, it's when a vet goes in and surgically clips the folds on the vocal cords.

Some animal support groups are pressing to make it illegal in every state to surgically silence a pet, and they want all vets to agree not to perform the surgery.

The petition is online at www.change.org, it currently has more than 138,000 signatures.

Supporters say debarking shouldn't even be a final alternative to a dog whose barking causes problems.

Certified trainer Ann Allums of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers says training is key to fixing a barking problem.

"We promote positive enforcement training, rewards-based training," said Allums. "That is rewarding for what you want the dog to do."

Allums' dogs get a treat for staying quiet and she's never thought of debarking her furry friends.

"When you don't address the problem and get the dog debarked, that still doesn't solve the triggers that was causing him to behave the same way as if he was not debarked," said Allums.

Dr. Wayne Creel, a Greenville veterinarian, said he's actually done plenty debarking surgeries in the past.

He says the surgery was much more popular in the 1950s and 1960s when hunting dogs were common. However he refuses to do the procedure today and said he hasn't done one in the last 20 years.  

"When they are debarked they still make a noise, it sounds to me like something died," said Creel. "It sounds to me worse than the actual bark, because now you're hearing something abnormal from the dog."

However, he says people still request it, and he warns them there could be complications if they do find a place to get it done. However, Creel doesn't believe the law should step in and ban the practice.  

"Personally, I don't think it's necessary to start legislation on what you should or should not do to your pet," said Creel. "I don't think most ethical vets would do it anyway."

Currently the American Veterinary Medical Association does say devocalization is a final alternative for pets with noise problems, after training has failed. However, the practice is no longer taught as curriculum in most veterinary schools.

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