Charlie’s a sweet dog who adores his entire family—two humans, cats, dogs, chickens, a goose and a turkey. He’d love to romp with them, but he can’t for more than a few minutes.
That's because Charlie's previous owner had his vocal cords cut to stifle his voice, and the scars in his throat make it hard to breathe.
Even a short walk can leave him gasping for air.
Who would have this done to their best friend? In Charlie's case, it was someone who adopted him. New York's Rebound Hounds ResQ screens prospective adopters exhaustively. So imagine their surprise—and outrage—when the woman they thought would give Charlie a wonderful home betrayed him in two ways:
The adopter had her vet devocalize Charlie. And a year later, she dumped him.
No big deal for her: After giving Charlie back to the rescue, she got another dog from a different group.
Charlie’s luck finally changed when his next adopter came along. She committed to love and care for him the rest of his life despite a voice she calls "strange and disturbing." CRUELTY BY ANY NAME HURTS The woman who had Charlie devocalized dismisses the surgery as “bark reduction.” That, like “bark softening,” is spin designed to sanitize this act of cruelty.
The truth is, no matter what you call it, there is no safe way to alter an animal's voice. Regardless of the vet’s skill, the amount of tissue cut or the surgical route—through the open mouth or an incision in the neck—it is always dangerous.
Scarring, a normal part of healing any time soft tissue is cut, can be deadly or cause lifelong misery when it forms in the throat.
Some devocalized animals choke to death or suffer pneumonia after inhaling food, water, even vomit into their lungs. Others die of heatstroke because they can't pant sufficiently to cool themselves.
The "lucky" ones "just" cough and gag persistently the rest of their lives following this convenience surgery.
And for what? Altering an animal's voice doesn't even ensure dogs and cats a home as those who profit from it claim. People who care for pets humanely and responsibly--and commit to them--do.