Devocalization, also known as debarking, bark softening or voice reduction, is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the vocal cords of cats and dogs, either through the open mouth or an incision in the neck, for the sole purpose of silencing them.
Not only is it pointless, but it is also harmful. Scar tissue from the surgery can narrow the airway, it can cause coughing fits and increase the risk of heatstroke due to an inability to pant properly. Dogs are also often left unable to play and exercise as they could before. It can even be fatal, as damage to the larynx can prevent it from closing properly and result in food inhalation and choking.
The surgery offers no benefits and often doesn’t work, with some animals sounding worse afterwards. Therefore, many go through several surgeries until their owner is happy with the results, after which they will likely suffer for the rest of their life.
Many countries have already banned devocalization but, in the US, only Massachusetts and Maryland have banned it outright. It’s still permitted in most states and the existing legislation contains loopholes that allow veterinarians to continue performing devocalization procedures. Please act now and encourage more vets to take a stand.