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Act By January 3 to End Inhumane Veterinary Policy

December 27, 2012
by
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

BACKGROUND | SOURCE COALITION TO PROTECT AND RESCUE PETS

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has historically sanctioned the cutting of vocal cords to mask a dog’s or cat’s voice. Despite public outcry against devocalization in recent years, the AVMA Executive Board has proposed a new policy that will further entrench veterinary support for this practice, widely considered an act of animal cruelty.

The policy comes up for a vote the first week of January 2013.

Learn how it hurts animals, then scroll down for steps you can take NOW to protect them. Act quickly, before the vote.

Why is the AVMA lagging behind the compassion curve?

As a professional association, the AVMA is charged with protecting its members’ interests. Some vets obviously devocalize because it is profitable. Others don’t devocalize but oppose banning it; many fear that would lead to prohibition of other unnecessary, mutilating surgeries such as ear cropping, tail docking and declawing.

A small but growing number of vets are taking an unequivocal stand for humane treatment of animals. They’re advocating for laws banning vocal cord surgery on dogs and cats except to treat a physical ailment causing the animal medical harm. The AVMA should too.

THE AVMA’S PROPOSED POLICY…

Canine devocalization should only be performed by qualified, licensed veterinarians as a final alternative to euthanasia after behavioral modification to correct excessive vocalization has failed and after discussion of potential complications from the procedure with the owner. When dogs are housed in groups (e.g. laboratories, breeding facilities, kennels) devocalization should not be used as an alternative to appropriate animal management and facility design.

… AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT

“Canine devocalization”

Cats are devocalized too; it’s documented. This policy doesn’t consider them at all.

“should only be performed by qualified, licensed veterinarians”

Veterinarians board-certified in surgery, anesthesiology and internal medicine say: Devocalization is always dangerous, even in the hands of qualified, licensed veterinarians. And exposing animals to these risks just to mask their natural voices is always inhumane.

“as a final alternative”

“Final alternative” is unenforceable. No vet can know–and some won’t ask–if a client has provided responsible care and training, essential to manage all animal behavior. Even receipts from a trainer or behaviorist don’t mean the client followed instructions correctly, consistently or at all; devocalization is easier for the owner, profitable for the vet. Only the animal suffers.

There is always a reason for persistent vocalization that should be addressed, according to preeminent veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, DVA, DACVB, DACVA. The animal may be bored, lonely or need more exercise. Some owners unwittingly reward and reinforce the vocalization they say annoys them. Others keep too many animals or place innately “talkative” breeds like Sheltie dogs and Siamese cats where their voices won’t be tolerated. Cutting the animal’s vocal cords is not the solution.

It is disingenuous to claim the choice is between devocalization and euthanasia. There are many effective, humane ways to manage barking and meowing, with rehoming as a “final alternative” for owners who can’t or won’t pursue them. No one need resort to the extremes of cutting healthy vocal cord tissue or euthanizing a healthy animal.

Shelter executives say devocalized animals are given up and convenience-euthanized like any other. The cost of maintaining a pet is among the top ten reasons for surrender. Barking and meowing are not.

Other top reasons for surrender include biting and house-soiling, which may be caused or worsened by devocalization. Surgically stifling an animal’s voice doesn’t change the needs expressed by persistent vocalizing, such as for companionship, exercise or mental stimulation; it just makes it easy for owners to ignore them. The animal then may communicate his distress through attention-seeking behaviors that are more irksome or dangerous than barking or meowing.

Devocalization can increase the risk of euthanasia when owners can’t or won’t pay for the costly procedure needed to remove scar tissue from their pets’ airways. Scar tissue development, a normal outcome of any surgery, can be deadly in the throat.
Shelters and caring vets say rehoming is a humane final alternative; devocalization is an act of animal cruelty.

“When dogs are housed in groups (e.g. laboratories, breeding facilities, kennels) devocalization should not be used as an alternative to appropriate animal management”

This is as unenforceable as the “final alternative” loophole, sanctioning the use of devocalization by animal-testing labs and breeders as long as “appropriate animal management and facility design” is claimed.

CONCERNED VETS PROPOSE THIS MORE ANIMAL-PROTECTIVE POLICY

Concerned veterinarians such as those in this video (at link) have joined animal shelters, advocacy groups, pet owners and others in calling for a ban on devocalization. They say cutting vocal cords just to stifle a dog’s or cat’s voice is cruel, and no one–including vets–should be allowed to engage in animal cruelty.

A more animal-protective position for the AVMA to take would be:

Any surgical procedure involving the vocal apparatus of dogs and cats should only be performed by qualified, licensed veterinarians and only to treat a physical illness, disease, injury or correct a congenital abnormality causing the animal medical harm that cannot be relieved by other veterinary care.


WHOM TO CONTACT

Call 1-847-285-6618 or 1-800-248-2862, ext. 7, weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. CST. Please be calm, polite and brief.

Click HERE for online contact form

Fax number: 1-847-925-1329

Click HERE for free faxing from your computer.  No fax machine, credit card, or registering required. Please be certain to confirm you message by clicking on the link sent to your email address or else your fax will not be sent


SAMPLE LETTER

To Whom It Concerns,

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has historically sanctioned the cutting of vocal cords to mask a dog’s or cat’s voice. Despite public outcry against devocalization in recent years, the AVMA Executive Board has proposed a new policy that will further entrench veterinary support for this practice, widely considered an act of animal cruelty.

On January 3, 2013, the AVMA will vote on a policy that will potentially protect veterinary, breeding, and animal-testing profits, but leave dogs and cats vulnerable to devocalization.

Stop justifying cruelty. No vet should cut vocal cords to stifle a dog’s or cat’s voice! No veterinary association should condone it.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this urgent appeal.

NAME


devocalizing is another way
for those who disrespect animals
to say,
that we do not like your dog
or cat voice,
so away it goes,
you do not have
a choice.
it is up to us to stand
up and say, that
this is cruel and unnecessary
and there are other
ways!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


16 Comments leave one →
  1. vicki hood permalink
    December 27, 2012 7:58 pm

    Click here for online contact goes NOWHERE. I waited for 8 minutes. Got blank with option of other avenues including contact us. Tried that as i really wanted to sign. Waited a very long time—— NOTHING.

    Like

  2. December 27, 2012 8:06 pm

    Sorry to disagree. There are dogs which bark uncontrollably and would be put to sleep unless they have this solution. Anti-bark shock collars are cruel and no one is complaining about them, even though they can cause neurosis.. People can be sued and evicted for having a barking dog. I knew a vet years ago who did the surgery using a tonsil loop, the same as used on children to remove tonsils. It was a fast & inexpensive surgery which resulted in a dog which could still bark, but not as loudly. I would prefer to be a debarked animal than a dead one. Debarked dogs still go through the motions of barking and do not suffer because of it. In my opinion.

    Like

    • December 28, 2012 11:37 am

      That’s the thing: euthanasia should not be an option either. You don’t stifle a baby’s cries with the alternative of euthanasia, so why is it appropriate for animals?

      Like

  3. December 27, 2012 10:04 pm

    Sounds very cruel and inhumane to me. Dogs are meant to bark, just born with that equipment. I would suspect over barking could be handled safer with training, which is a win-win situation! I was able to send the email and access the link.

    Like

  4. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    December 28, 2012 3:28 am

    devocalizing is another way
    for those who disrespect animals
    to say,
    that we do not like your dog
    or cat voice,
    so away it goes,
    you do not have
    a choice.
    it is up to us to stand
    up and say, that
    this is cruel and unnecessary
    and there are other
    ways!

    Like

  5. December 28, 2012 3:29 pm

    Im sorry but i respectfully disagree with having any animal devocalized! Its disgusting and inhumane there are other options than shock collars there are collars that mearly vibrate there are also trainers that can be utilized the bottom line is that if your pet is meowing or barking to the extent that its disruptive then there is an underlining issue that simply cutting its vocal cord will NOT fix and im sorry but adog can NOT bark after devocalization ive been around dogs who where devocalized and they make noise kind of but it certainly isnt a bark or even a soft bark Death shouldnt be an answer any more than devocalization is an answer sometimes the easiest thing isnt the best such as devocalization its shameful and disgusting to devocalize any animal when children throw tantrums we dont cut their vocal cords ots ridiculous my suggestion is if you dont like barking or meowing then DONT get a pet!! And if you cant be bothered with workig with your pet on issues instead of maiming them DONT get a pet its just that simply im very passionate about this as you can tell ive seen how hard these dogs have it when they are devocalized some cant ever swallow right again all so some lazy owner can get a little peace! Thanks for the alert Stacey and by the way the both links worked just fine for mei sent an email and a fax had to be sure im heard lol thanks Stacey and Karen another fantastic poem

    Like

    • December 28, 2012 4:47 pm

      Thanks for your insightful and spot-on comments, Florence, I greatly appreciate your input. Excellent commentary and work, as always.

      Like

      • December 29, 2012 2:58 pm

        dont mention it Stacey its my pleasure and i greatly appreciate all the hard work you do for animals by posting all these actions and informative articles you are the best ; )

        Like

        • December 30, 2012 12:03 pm

          That means so much, but it is you who is truly an inspiration. :)

          Like

    • karenlyonskalmenson permalink
      December 29, 2012 4:51 pm

      thank you florence for you powerful words and for appreciating my poem!

      Like

  6. May 11, 2013 11:41 pm

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    Like

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