People who have dogs, especially in apartment buildings where walls may be thin and living quarters small, often receive complaints about their dogs barking at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes these complaints go beyond a knock at the door and are filed with the landlord, co-op board, or worse - the city. When this happens, the pet owner is often faced with a couple of options: they can move out and possibly face the same issues at the next place of residence or they can give their dog up and deal with the possibility of having it euthanized at the pound if they can’t find someone willing to take in a "loud" dog.
For some, neither of these options are palatable and they end up going in for a very unconventional solution. A recent article from the New York Times talks about a surgery performed on dogs that has a lot of animal activists up in arms. Debarking, the procedure to remove a dog’s vocal chords, is not widely practiced but has found it’s place in bigger cities where apartment dwellers receive more complaints about barking dogs.
Though many veterinarians refuse to perform this procedure, finding it inhumane, there are still a good number who do (though often times will not advertise this unless asked about it). One San Diego veterinarian, Dr. Sharon Vanderlip, calls herself a big proponent of the debarking surgery. Vanderlip has been performing this type of surgery for 30 years and defends the practice by saying, "They recover immediately and they don’t ever seem to notice any difference. I think that in certain cases it can certainly save a dog from ending up being euthanized. If properly done, they behave totally the same afterwards and don’t seem to have any health problems."
The surgery is described as relatively simple. The veterinarian will cut the vocal cords through the mouth or an incision in the larnyx . All that’s left of the dog’s bark after the surgery will be a quiet muffled sort of sound. But there is a potential side effect to this procedure that has a lot of dog lovers and veterinarians saying it is inhumane and harmful for a dog. Dr. Gary Ellison, from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, warns that in the past he has had to operate on debarked dogs who suffer from breathing difficulties after scar tissue built up in their throats.
What do you think of debarking surgery?
Do you think there is ever an instance where performing this procedure could be beneficial to the dog?