Model Legislation: Pass a meaningful law to protect ALL dogs and cats in your state from elective voice-altering surgery, not just a fortunate few.
AN ACT PROHIBITING DEVOCALIZATION OF DOGS AND CATS
DEFINITIONS "VOCAL CORD SURGERY" shall mean a procedure involving the vocal apparatus of a dog or cat that includes cutting, notching, punching, abrading, laser, suturing or otherwise physically altering the tissue regardless of the surgical route.
"DEVOCALIZATION" shall mean vocal cord surgery on a dog or cat, as defined above, performed with the intent of altering, reducing or eliminating vocal sounds produced by that animal. This includes procedures. ALSO REFERRED TO AS debarking, devoicing, silencing, ventriculocordectomy, vocal cordectomy, bark reduction or bark softening.
"MEDICALLY NECESSARY" shall mean necessary to treat a PHYSICAL illness, disease or injury or correct a birth defect that causes the animal medical harm or pain that cannot be relieved or remedied by other veterinary care.
I. No person shall perform or cause to be performed vocal cord surgery on a dog or cat except in accordance with the provisions of this statute.
A. Vocal cord surgery shall be performed on a dog or cat only by a person licensed as a veterinarian in this state.
B. Vocal cord surgery may be performed on a dog or cat only when the procedure is medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness or injury or correct a birth defect suffered by the animal, which illness, injury or congenital abnormality is causing or may cause the animal physical pain or harm that cannot be relieved or remedied by other veterinary care.
C. Any person who performs vocal cord surgery on a dog or cat shall prepare a record of the procedure containing the following information:
(1) The name and address of the animal’s owner; (2) The name and address of the person from whom payment is received for the procedure; (3) A description of the animal, including its name, species, breed, date of birth, sex, color, markings and current weight; (4) The license number and municipality that issued the license for the animal; (5) The date and time of the procedure; (6) The reason the procedure was performed; and (7) Test results and analysis, and diagnostic opinion to support the reason the procedure was performed.
D. This record shall be retained by the person performing the procedure for a period of no less than four years after the last contact with the animal on which the procedure was performed.
E. All such records shall be made available upon request by law enforcement agents including animal control officers; the office of the Attorney General; any district attorney or county or city attorney; any director or manager of a 501(c)3 society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, humane society or shelter; or the agents of such officers, attorneys, directors or managers.
F. No person or commercial establishment, pet shop, firm or corporation shall sell a dog or cat that has been devocalized unless a copy of the written notice described in section V of this statute is provided to any prospective purchaser before the purchaser enters into any agreement to purchase said animal.
(1) Violation of this paragraph shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of a trade or commerce under the general business law of this state. (2) Violation of this paragraph shall render any purchase agreement voidable. (3) A purchaser who elects to void the purchase agreement set forth in this paragraph or who pursues a violation of this paragraph under the general business law of this state shall have the option of keeping the dog or cat regardless. (4) The requirements of this paragraph shall not apply to 501(c)3 animal welfare organizations that are chartered to rescue, shelter and adopt out animals.
A. Any person who performs or causes to be performed the devocalization of a dog or cat in violation of the provisions of this statute shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to one year or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars or by both such fine and imprisonment.
B. In addition to the penalties described in Paragraph A of this section, the Board of Veterinary Medicine may suspend or revoke a veterinarian found in violation of this statute. Upon learning of a violation, the Board shall investigate and hold a hearing to determine whether the license of any veterinarian in violation of the provisions of this statute shall be suspended or revoked.
C. In addition to the penalties described in Paragraph A of this section, the court may order any person who violates the provisions of this statute to undergo evaluation and treatment by a mental health professional licensed in this state and/or to successfully complete a course of instruction relative to the humane treatment of animals.
D. In addition to the penalties described in Paragraph A of this section, the court may bar any person who violates the provisions of this statue from owning or keeping a dog or cat or sharing a residence with another who owns or keeps a dog or cat for a period of time as determined by said court.
E. In addition to the penalties described in Paragraph A of this section, the court may order any person who violates this statute to relinquish the animal on which the procedure was performed as well as any other animals owned or controlled by such person to a court-approved 501(c)3 society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, animal shelter, humane society or rescue organization. Such person shall be liable for the reasonable costs of care for the animal, including veterinary care for medical conditions caused by or the result of devocalization of the animal.