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Gianaris Introduces Bill to Ban “Devocalization” Surgeries on Household Pets

Gianaris holds a press conference with the ASPCA in April looking to get support for his bills that aim to reduce animal cruelty

Dec. 16, 2019 By Kristen Torres

A Queens lawmaker has introduced legislation to ban “devocalization” surgeries on household pets — a procedure that leaves cats and dogs unable to communicate.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents western Queens, announced the legislation on Dec. 14 while speaking at PetCon NYC — a nationwide conference for animal rights leaders and influencers.

“We need to be the voice of animals who cannot speak for themselves,” said Senator Gianaris in a statement. “With this ban, we fight back against a violent procedure meant to convenience humans at great pain to their companions.”

Devocalization surgery removes an animal’s ability to bark or meow by taking out vocal cord tissue. The procedure can lead to respiratory issues and psychological damage, according to a statement by Gianaris.

New York Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski introduced a companion bill early this year, which will also restrict the performance of surgical devocalization procedures on dogs and cats.

Animal rights leaders throughout the city are backing Gianaris’ legislation.

“Barking is a way for a dog to let their humans know there’s a problem,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. “Barking is part of a dog’s behavior. Good training can stop unnecessary barking. There’s no need to put any animal through unnecessary surgery that is a potential health hazard.”

Gianaris passed legislation earlier this year—that has become law—prohibiting the practice of declawing cats.

He also introduced legislation that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores across New York State. That bill did not make it to the floor for a vote.

 

 

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30 Comments

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Harris Milstead

Ah yes your ally from the projects whose kid peddles terminator and treys of delight will be terribly upset. That’s their only protection from the bad policemen when the boom the door.

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Anonymous

Too bad there isn’t devocalization surgery for several of the disingenuous commenters on this blog

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ridantiHQ2polsnow

He may have had good intentions, but not informed as usual. Anyway he is back to his pandering self, saw him yesterday protesting the hiring of more MTA Police. Sure, just releasing criminals from jail, and softening all the laws not good enough, let’s just get rid of the police all together so the Left’s base will be satisfied.

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That was never mentioned...

Where was murdering babies mentioned again? Strange thing to randomly say. Is there a baby murder crime spree in LIC?

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Jennifer T

This is grossly inaccurate! I am a retired veterinary technician with 34 years of involvement in sheltering and rescue. Bark softening procedures are not in the least violent. The dog is anesthetized, and while unconscious, a laryngoscope is used to visualize the vocal cords. A small notch is taken from the vocal cords and the anesthesia is reversed. The dog is up and walking around minutes from the start of the procedure. When done by a veterinarian, there are no ill effects. The dog DOES still bark! Just not as loudly. Dogs communicate primarily via body postures and placement, not by barking.

I’ve never once in hundreds of thousands of cats I’ve handled seen one with vocal softening. I have no idea where that notion comes from.

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Karen

Bravo. Thx. I had this procedure years back to several dogs who i probably would have had to regime due to nonstop barking Pomeranians that i used to show. This procedure was done in minutes. Non invasive and the pups lived happy healthy lives after with a lot less scolding to “quiet down!”

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Jack

This one I will definitely agree with him and support, animals must have vocalization, barking and meaws, for dogs and cats, and also must have their claws not to be removed.

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A. M. Pomasl

They do still have the ability to bark. It is just at a lower decibel level so they only disturb you not the whole neighborhood. I have dogs that are shown and they would not be allowed in hotel rooms without having been bark softened. Some breeds were bred to bark, this allows owners to keep them.

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TLL

The animals do not lose their ability to bark, meow, or vocalize. It merely reduces the volume. Surely you don’t think you know more than a veterinarian with over 30 years’ experience?

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cj strehle

Often, the difference between life and death comes from debarking. Those who have a dearly loved dog often didn’t know that said dog was born and bred to bark. It often isn’t possible to train out instinct, say in a sheltie. Debarking can keep that dog in a loving home, rather than be relegated to a shelter or animal control, hoping to be rehomed. Debarking does not cause any health issues, just makes barking softer. Dogs still do what they were born to do, only quieter!

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Bah Humbug

LIC has more dogs registered than any other region in the state. Don’t let these politicians pander to you! They take up these fluff causes because they don’t have the stones to tackle real problems in our community.

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A. M. Pomasl

Would you also demand that a tonsillectomy for a child be illegal? This procedure for dogs is far less invasive than that surgery. This doesn’t “protect” any animal. It only ensures that many more will end up in shelters for being too “noisy.” So you are saying you want to be responsible for dog deaths? That’s what will happen.

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JB

This is very important legislation. Now that dogs can be heard and ducks can no longer be over fed we can get take care of the less important things…like our crumbling infrastructure, over crowded schools and attracting businesses to our area. Well done.

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Stevie

Are there any statistics to show how frequently this is done and under what circumstances? Is this really this most important thing this guy needs to spend his time on? I don’t like to see animal rights organizations like ASPCA, PeTA or HSUS backing these politicians. Next they’re be after household pet ownership and all equestrian activities. Enough already.

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S. Nica

Good for State Sen. Gianaris! How bloody heartless do you have to be to something like this to your pet?

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CHRISTINE M ALLISON

I once had a Malmute/Coyote mix I got when in Alaska. When I moved to WA he was not used to all the commotion of “rural city” life. Unfortunately, I had to work daily to support my son and self, and he would bark. NO amount of “understanding training” would cure this. A neighbor complained & I was told that he would be put down by the county if I could not control his barking. So I had him “debarked”. HE COULD still make all sort of noises and communicated quite well, just in a quieter volume. Which was better, being debarked or put to death???? I vote the debark!! Idiotic “animals are ‘humans'” legislation without real thought is just “vote” getting with people who have not real clue about animals and are the MOST likely to turn an animal into a shelter because they cannot “control” him.

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Candace Lundin, DVM, MS

This will result in more homeless pets. There will be more animal surrenders to rescue groups due to barking not being tolerated by the family or the neighbors. Of course, that is what the ASPCA wants—they need a constant resupply of rescues to keep the kennel runs full so that they can cry for more donations with the sob stories of displaced animals (which they are not creating). Dogs communicate many ways—barking is the least used. Devocalization is actually called bark softening. It is like allowing dogs to speak but not yell. Some dogs absolutely can not be trained to not bark, anymore than you can control every autistic child from throwing a tantrum. Once again, we have stupid legislators being led astray by animal rightists’ agenda.

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Jennifer T

Absolutely! I’ve had many shelters surrendered to my rescue for “barking too much”. As a retired vet tech and with 34 years involvement in sheltering and rescue, I would MUCH rather see a bark softening surgery done on a dog by a vet than see owners forced to surrender their pet to a rescue. I had one dog whose owner I recommended bark softening surgery to, but she thought it was “cruel”. So she surrendered him to rescue. That dog laid by the door she left through for weeks, not eating, barely drinking, having to be carried out to potty. Two different vet checks. Blood work. X-rays. Nothing physically wrong. Tried a different foster home. Nope. Had to give fluids subcuetaneously. You could force feed him, but he didn’t cooperate. He got so thin, and was so miserable without the owner, who had hand raised him when his mother died, we euthanized him. Bark softening would have saved his life.

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Christina L Bjork

Senator Gianaris says this is “a violent procedure”, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to talk about a violent procedure, let’s compare spaying and neutering to debarking:

Spaying and neutering
Spaying and neutering are invasive procedures that involve removing reproductive organs (gonadectomy). In the female, the procedure is considered “major surgery” because the abdomen is opened to remove the uterus and ovaries. The procedure, nicknamed a “spay”, is correctly termed an ovariohysterectomy. In the male, the testicles are removed. Tissues and blood vessels are cut, ligated, cauterized, and stitched. The procedure is nicknamed a “neuter”, but the correct term is castration. Ovariohysterecomies and castrations take from ten to thirty (sometimes more) minutes to perform, so intravenous catheters and fluids may be required. The procedures are painful, so they require a general gas anesthesia and analgesia (pain killers). Antibiotics may also be necessary. Although problems rarely occur when the procedures are correctly performed on healthy animals, these surgeries carry the risks associated with longer anesthesia time and surgical complications, such as infection, hemorrhage, cardiac or respiratory arrest, and death. Ovariohysterectomies and castrations may have long-term side-effects later in life, such as urinary incontinence, hormonal imbalances, and, as previously mentioned for females, a shorter lifespan.

Bark softening
Bark softening (by oral technique) is non-invasive and takes about two minutes to perform. A short acting injectable anesthetic is used that lasts about five to seven minutes. When correctly performed, there is little to no bleeding or discomfort. The dog is given pain medication as a precaution and sedatives are prescribed to keep the animal quiet for several days to reduce scarring of the vocal folds. If done correctly, bark softening has no side effects except that the dog has a quieter bark. In some cases, the voice can return to full volume over time.

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Amazon Cuomo

Glad he’s got his priorities straight! Fight against tax subsidies for big tech and pet devocalizatiom companies.

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ASensibleMan

I never even knew this was a thing. Who on earth is doing this horrible surgery to their pets? Or is this yet another benefit of diversity?

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How did this turn into a racist rant, again?!

I know diversity hurts your feelings, but do you HAVE to copy/paste this whine on every article? This one is about dogs…

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