Four Outlandish Ways Some Vets Defend Keeping Devocalization ("Bark Softening") Legal... And the Reality of This Cruelty
The following quotes are from an email sent to us by a veterinarian. Incredibly, some vets--as well as veterinary associations and their lobbyists--defend devocalization ("bark/voice softening") of dogs and cats despite the life-threatening risks it poses, without any benefit for animals. One vet lobbied against her state's proposed devocalization ban even though her patient died in terror, choking to death on his food, after she clipped his vocal cords to change the voice he was born with.
1) WE AREN'T DEVOCALIZING SO LAWS AREN'T NEEDED "I do not know of any practitioner who does this procedure. Even if a practitioner could be convinced to do it by a client, I believe their staff would be reluctant to participate."
REALITY:Devocalization isn't rare. Disclosure may be. Not all vets who devocalize readily disclose it, even to their colleagues. They know it's considered shameful and is easy to hide--unlike cut ears, tails and paws, vocal cords are hidden from view. However, there is ample documentation of veterinary practices that devocalize and vet techs required to assist.
And think about it: If vets weren't devocalizing ("bark/voice softening"), their associations wouldn't lobby to keep it legal--but they do.
Veterinary lobbyists defeat good proposed devocalization bans outright or worse--by advancing loopholes that legitimize as well as enable this act of cruelty.
2) OK, WE ARE DEVOCALIZING, BUT THE DEVIL MAKES US DO IT "Veterinarians feel coerced to perform procedures on pets that they do not believe is in the best interest of the pet, but still do so because we fear clients will abandon, relinquish, or elect to euthanize them."
REALITY:Performing procedures that aren't in the patient's best interest--like cutting vocal cords to mask barking or meowing--is unethical. And the "devocalize or euthanize" claim is is a false choice. Here's why:
Shelters and rescue groups report that devocalized dogs and cats are abandoned, relinquished and euthanizeddespite--sometimes because of--their altered voices. People who choose, care for and train animals responsibly, and who make a lifetime commitment to them, keep dogs and cats out of shelters. Behavior-masking surgery doesn't.
There are many effective, humane ways to manage barking and meowing, including medication-facilitated behavior modification for issues like anxiety. Shelter executives say rehoming is the kinder "last resort" for people who can't or won't pursue responsible care, training and supervision of their animals. Many shelters are now no-kill. And all good shelters work with animals to resolve behavior problems.
NO vet is forced to cut healthy vocal cords OR euthanize a healthy animal for barking or meowing because a client requests it. There's no gun to the vet's head, no threat--except the threat of lost revenue.
3) HEY, SOMEONE'S GOTTA DO IT "If we don't devocalize, people will do it themselves."
REALITY:That's happening NOW though devocalization by vets is legal in 48 states! And in all states, it is illegal to cut an animal's vocal cords without a veterinary license.
What's more, vets board-certified in surgery, internal medicine and anesthesiology say: Cutting vocal cord tissue, the only way to alter the voice, is ALWAYS dangerous, even when performed in a clinical setting by a skilled practitioner. Regardless of the surgical route--through the open mouth or an incision in the neck--vocal cord surgery exposes animals to lifelong anguish and great risk of a terrible premature death.
Even a small cut forms scars that can block the airway. Luckier victims "just" cough and gag persistently, and suffer impaired breathing, panting and swallowing, the rest of their lives as a result of scarring in their throats.
Others die horribly, gasping for air as they choke to death on their food. And because the larynx may be damaged by voice-altering surgery, some inhale food, liquids, even vomit into their lungs.
4) WE AREN'T THE PROBLEM, OUR CLIENTS ARE "The problem is not that there are veterinarians out there who perform this procedure, the problem is that people want it at the expense of the health, safety, and care for their pets."
REALITY: Vets who devocalize--and those who enable them--ARE the problem. These are the professionals entrusted to heal, not harm, animals. They don't have to do whatever crazy thing a client asks.
Would any vet lop off a dog's or cat's legs for jumping on the client's furniture? Then why is it ok to cut vocal cord tissue--equally barbaric and far more lethal--to stifle an animal's voice?
Absolving vets of responsibility for subjecting animals to risky voice-altering surgery they don't need, didn't request and are helpless to refuse ensures this cruelty will continue.
WONDER WHERE YOUR VET REALLY STANDS? ASK HIM OR HER TO SUBMIT THIS ONLINE FORM. YOU CAN CONTACT US TO FIND OUT IF S/HE DID.