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The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is calling for an end to dog "debarking" in Canada, due to the negative health and emotional impacts the animal could face afterwards.
On April 13, the organization created a petition and called on the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia (CVBC) specifically to end the practice, which it says "impacts a dog’s ability to experience good welfare and express natural behaviours."
According to the B.C. SPCA, devocalization, or "debarking," involves partially or fully removing a dog or puppy's vocal cords to muffle or stop barking.
"The surgery is performed by accessing the tissues through the mouth or directly through the larynx," it says.
Dr. Emilia Gordon, a senior manager of animal health for the B.C. SPCA, says the procedure "deprives dogs of an important form of communication."
In some cases, she says dogs go through the surgery only to have their vocal cord tissues re-grow and their ability to bark return to near-normal.
Does your dog like to bark when you\u2019re on an important Zoom meeting? It\u2019s a less than ideal situation but seems to be a common one these days! For tips on why dogs bark & how to address it, visit: https://spca.bc.ca/news/stop-dog-from-barking/\u00a0\u2026 #NationalTrainYourDogMonth #BCSPCA #AnimalKindpic.twitter.com/5xPXdz8PGq— BC SPCA / BCSPCA (@BC SPCA / BCSPCA) 1609969982
Complications can include bleeding, swelling, infection, chronic coughing, noisy breathing, respiratory distress, collapse and more.
As an alternative for those struggling with barking issues in their pet, the organization suggests "seeking the services of a humane dog trainer to address issues such as boredom or separation anxiety. [...]
"It is also important to speak to your veterinarian about it," it adds. It's not the only organization to speak out against the practice, as the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have also discredited debarking.
In Canada, the surgery is banned in both Alberta and Nova Scotia, with Quebec moving to implement a similar ban as well.
Elsewhere in the world, it's prohibited in places like the U.K., the European Union, some American states, New Zealand and Australia.
If the CVBC bans debarking, those performing the procedure could face animal cruelty charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act .
In February 2022, the CVMA stated that it "opposes non-therapeutic ventriculocordectomy (devocalization) of dogs."
However, they added that therapeutic ventriculocordectomy in dogs "may be undertaken for valid reasons such as airway obstruction, laryngeal paralysis or cancer."
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