A law that went into effect on July 21 bans surgical devocalization — the cutting of animals’ vocal cords — except in cases of medical necessity. The procedure is commonly referred to as “debarking” when it’s done to dogs.
The measure was signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. A violation carries up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
This is a huge victory for animal welfare activists, but more so for the animals themselves. Devocalization is a cruel, unnecessary procedure that can have devastating effects, including the build-up of scar tissue in the throat that can make it difficult to breathe. Moreover, in my mind, taking away an animal’s voice is like taking away at least a part of its ability to communicate.
Let’s hope this turns into a trend and other jurisdictions, including Minnesota, decide to follow Massachusetts’ lead.