Porter's Story: Cutting Just a Little Vocal Cord Tissue Blocked Over 50% of His Airway
Newfoundlands don't bark much. But that didn't keep Porter's first owner from subjecting him to surgery to stifle his voice.
An experienced vet, a go-to practitioner for this procedure, inserted instruments through Porter's mouth and "notched" his vocal cords.
Some spin this as "bark softening" and claim it's benign. That's not true.
The only way to alter the voice is by cutting vocal cord tissue. No matter how it's done or the vet's skill, cut tissue bleeds and forms scars. And when scarring occurs in the throat, it can cause lifelong anguish or a horrifying death.
The so-called "bark softening" approach to devocalization carries an added risk: Because it often fails to achieve the desired vocal outcome, some animals are subjected to it repeatedly till the client is satisfied.
This is the record of Porter's "bark softening." His vet offered to repeat the surgery at no charge if the bark returned. That's good for the client but not the helpless patient, who must endure more pain, stress and surgical risks.
DAMAGED FOR LIFE, NO LONGER WANTED Two years after having Porter devocalized, his owners no longer wanted him. They gave him to a rescue group, scar tissue blocking 50% of his airway.
Though his adopters paid for a $2,000 procedure to remove the blockage, the surgeon advised them the dog they love will never live a normal life thanks to "bark softening." And what's more, the scar tissue can re-form.
Porter still has difficulty breathing. He coughs and gags throughout the day, and remains at increased risk for heatstroke regardless of the weather because he can't pant sufficiently to cool himself.
His adopters even have to water down his food so he won't choke--a terrifying way to die.
Because Porter's larynx was permanently damaged by his "bark softening" devocalization, he also risks inhaling food, water or vomit into his lungs and developing pneumonia. That's how another devocalized dog given to the same rescue group died.
Porter will suffer the rest of his life because the people he loved and trusted didn't want to hear the voice he was born with--and a vet accommodated their selfishness.