While cruising through the daily topics that were getting attention on Twitter, I came across an interesting front page article from the New York Times on the practice of debarking dogs. This was a rather foreign topic to me and it was fascinating to read the various view points on the issue.

At first glance, debarking sounds cruel. You’re putting an animal through an invasive surgical procedure to remove their vocal chords and take away one of their most primal functions. While a human can understand why they can’t speak and how to work around it, a dog just doesn’t have that mental capacity. They just know that one day they could bark and the next they couldn’t. That we are taking an important piece from a dog for our personal convenience.

But you can make a case that the surgery is not anymore inhumane than what we currently put animals through. Dogs are neutered not only for population control, but our own sanity (spend a week with a dog in his sexual prime). We declaw cats to preserve our expensive furniture from being torn apart. We eliminate the primary feature of a bird when we clip their wings so that they can’t fly. Now all of these are varying degrees of invasiveness and all take away natural elements of the animal. Is it meaner to remove the voice of a dog versus their sex organs?

Personally, I take the side of many young veterinarians that believe it’s not necessary. That it is cruel to eliminate their primary form of communication. While a dog’s bark can at times be a nuisance, it’s also part of their personality and the easiest way they can communicate with you. My dog stands at the front door and lets out a muffled bark when he needs to go to the bathroom. He also lets the house know when someone is approaching the front door. I love his bark as much as I love him.

While I can understand those who can’t annoy their neighbors, I’d argue that they probably should not be owning a pet, or moving to a more pet-friendly environment. There are breeds that are much less vocal than others as well as humane products and training mechanisms to curb the noise. There seems to be a line that gets crossed with debarking where we are putting too much emphasis on our own comfort over that of other living beings.

In any event, the debate is not as cut and dry as it seems. While myself and many others believe it is something that shouldn’t be done, there is always the argument of lives being saved that can be used. If debarking allows 10,000 dogs to be saved from euthanasia a year, does it change your perspective? I hope that we can save those lives other ways by increasing population control measures and using more humane ways to curb excessively barking dogs.

The debate rages on and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. For more information on the topic, we found that Wikipedia has a thorough breakdown that includes multiple points of view and facts on the procedure.

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