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Bill would ban dog debarking procedure

May 31, 2018

A new bill in the Michigan house would ban the debarking of dogs, except in cases where a vet determines the procedure would be therapeutic.

Debarking is a surgical procedure which removes tissue from the vocal cords of dogs to reduce the volume of their bark.

State Rep. Tim Sneller, D-Burton, is the bill sponsor. He said unless a veterinarian determines that the procedure is necessary for the animals health it should be banned.

“Take it to a training. Teach it when to bark and when not to bark. I think people are using this as an easy way out to keep the dog from barking.”

Sneller said in some cases, as with throat cancer, debarking may be the right option.

“Let’s just say it had an illness that barking might cause it even more injury," Sneller said. "So there has got to be a health reason as to why a vet would perform that, not just because you as a pet owner don’t want your dog barking anymore.”

But he said it should not be used as a way to silence a dog.

“Barking is the way your dog communicates with you," said Sneller. "My little guy barks when he wants to go out, he barks when he wants to go in, he barks when somebody is in the yard that is probably a stranger to him.”

The bill is newly introduced but Sneller said he’s not confident it will move quickly through the legislature.

The procedure is controversial, some veterinary organizations oppose it altogether. Others support it as a last resort if training doesn’t work.