Lobbyists for special interest groups that profit from devocalization work to defeat humane laws prohibiting this act of animal cruelty in several ways. One is to kill the legislation outright by persuading lawmakers to vote against it, send it to the black hole of "study" or hold it in a committee until it is dead.
A more insidious way is to riddle legislation with loopholes like those below.
Loopholes enable special interests to create a facade of concern for animals while actually hurting them. Some allow and legitimize devocalization. Others apply the law so narrowly, it leaves the vast majority of dogs and cats vulnerable to vocal cord surgery they don't need but are helpless to refuse.
1. "Allowable as a Last Resort/Final Alternative" Would Make the Law Unenforceable--and Cause More Dogs and Cats to Be Devocalized. This proposal hurts animals in two ways. It keeps devocalization legal because it can never be enforced. And it makes an act of cruelty socially acceptable. That can only result in more dogs and cats subjected to vocal cord surgery just for barking or meowing.
NOvet can know, some won't ask, if devocalization is a last or firstresort. Even receipts for dog training or "behavior modification" don’t mean the client followed the advice correctly, consistently or at all. Training and responsible care require time and effort. Devocalization is easy for lazy people, profitable for vets. Only the animal suffers.
NOvet can know if a client provides responsible stewardship of animals. Animals who don’t receive sufficient companionship, exercise and mental stimulation express their frustration through persistent vocalization--and worse if their needs remain unmet. Those who have not been spayed or neutered will vocalize their hormonally triggered excitement and aggression.
►Why is the "Last Resort/Final Alternative" Loophole Baseless? There are many humane solutions for unwanted barking or meowing, starting with responsible selection and care of a companion animal. Boredom, loneliness and distress are the top causes of persistent barking, according to Pat Miller, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Consistent, correct training, sometimes facilitated by medication, is effective. For those who don't wish to invest the time and effort in their animals, shelter executives say rehoming is the appropriate "final alternative."
Devocalization is the quick fix that doesn't fix anything.It does NOT guarantee healthy animals won't be euthanized or given up.In fact, devocalization canincreasethe risk. Here's why:
Surgically masking an animal's voice doesn't address the needs expressed by persistent vocalization; it just makes them easier to ignore. That is both inhumane and leaves the animal with no choice but to act out in more destructive ways, such as biting or house-soiling--therealreasons healthy animals are euthanized.
Some devocalized animals are euthanized when people can't or won't pay for expensive surgery to treat complications like airway blockage.And because no vet can predict the quality of the post-surgical voice, some clients are surprised to learn it is more disturbing than the voice their pet was born with.
2. Laws That Prohibit Landlords From Requiring Devocalization Leave Animals Vulnerable--and Could Leave Them Homeless Too. This is "smoke-and-mirrors" legislation. Though it sounds good at first blush, landlords are an insignificant cause of devocalization. And faced with such a law, the recourse for the few who demand behavior-masking surgery is to disallow all pets. So who benefits from this pointless law? Not animals.
3. Why Not Allow "Bark Softening" and Just Ban Devocalization. Because they're the same thing! The dog breeding lobby once spun the practice of surgically altering an animal's voice as "bark softening." As the movement to prohibit this cruelty grows, lobbyists for the breeding industry are inventing new spin. They now claim "bark softening" is a different, "non-invasive" procedure.
That is patently false.
Vocal apparatus tissue must be cut in order to alter the voice. Regardless of the surgical route, through the oral cavity or an incision in the neck, that indeed is invasive, painful--and dangerous.
4. "Allowable for Medical Necessity" or if "Medically Beneficial" Would Make the Law Unenforceable. "Medical necessity" and "medically beneficial" are loopholes unless defined as treatment of a physical ailment causing the animal medical harm.
Lobbies that profit from devocalization claim that unless vocal cords are cut, a "talkative" animal would be euthanized, so this procedure is medically necessary. That is disingenuous.
No one need resort to the cruel extremes of cutting healthy vocal cords OR killing a healthy animal for unwanted barking or meowing.
There are many humane solutions for those willing to pursue them. For those who aren't, shelter executives say rehoming is the kinder alternative.
5. NOT Specifying “Physical” Illness/Disease in the Law's Sole Exemption is a Loophole. Pro-devocalization lobbies have tried to amend devocalization bans so they allow “behavioral” illness as a reason to cut a dog’s or cat’s vocal cords--an absurd attempt to keep this act of cruelty accessible for their own benefit.
Barking and meowing are not pathology. They are normal communication that only becomes troublesome when people ignore their animal's needs (such as for exercise and companionship); keep too many animals; inadvertently reward persistent vocalization; or don't train the animal correctly, consistently or at all.
While it’s true that some breeds are more vocal than others, it is the height of irresponsibility and cruelty to purchase, adopt or breed them knowing this predisposition only to cut their vocal cords because of it.
6. Applying the Law Only to Breeders Would Make It Unenforceable--and Worse. Under this proposal, only people who breed animals would not be allowed to have them devocalized. But most breeders are not licensed. Hence, there is no certain way to identify those who wish to skirt the law.
Worse, it would legitimize an act of cruelty. And by codifying this cruelty as an acceptable option, the law could increase animal suffering.
Having vocal cords cut is quick and easy for those who enjoy a dog's or cat's companionship but don't want to commit to responsible selection, housing, care and training, which humanely prevent and resolve persistent vocalization. It's profitable for vets.
Who suffers? Only the animal and future guardians, who may be forced to choose between a $2,000 procedure to remove scar tissue from a beloved pet's airway or euthanasia.
7. Applying the Law Only to Puppy Mills Would Harm Animals. Puppy mills are just a small segment of those who have animals devocalized. AKC and backyard breeders, dog show exhibitors, sled dog racers and impatient or selfish pet owners also have their animals devocalized.
A law this narrow would leave the majority of dogs and cats unprotected. It also opens the door for another loophole: allowing vocal cord surgery behavioral intervention if performed by a vet. There is no benign way to surgically alter an animal's voice, no matter who performs it or how.
8. Exempting Veterinarians From Penalties Would Kill the Legislation--Duh! It is primarily vets who perform devocalization. This loophole would effectively kill the law.
Further, there is no basis for this exemption: Veterinarians board-certified in surgery, anesthesiology and internal medicine say devocalization is very dangerous, potentially fatal, no matter who performs it, even a skilled and experienced vet.
Because there is no benefit for the animal, devocalization isn't just dangerous, it is unethical and cruel. And no one should be allowed to engage in an act of animal cruelty, least of all the vets entrusted to protect animals from harm.
9. Why Would the Words "Pet" or "Companion Animal" Make the Law Unenforceable? Animals used for breeding, show, sport or testing by research laboratories--devocalized so they'll be quiet in kennels or the show ring--are not considered pets. A law that say "pets" or "companion animals" instead of "dogs and cats" would leave these animals without any protection.