1 November 2022

Ethicists’ commentary on debarking of dogs

Shetland sheepdog on green grass
📷 Colourbox.com

Ethical question of the month, July 2022

A provincial animal welfare agency has requested that the provincial Veterinary Registrar consider a ban on devocalization surgeries in dogs. Reasons for the request include post-surgical pain, removal of a normal behavioral response, and risk of medical complications. Despite widespread support for the proposed ban from animal welfare advocates, there is pushback from the general public as a result of “nuisance” barking due to lack of bylaws or insufficient enforcement. In addition, some Registrars have opined that elective surgeries should be left to the discretion of veterinarians and should not be regulated by provincial veterinary bylaws.

Should devocalization be an option for owners unable or unwilling to attempt retraining their dogs? Is it reasonable for neighbors to request the surgery be performed to “keep the peace” when less invasive requests have failed? Should elective surgeries be performed at a veterinarian’s discretion?

Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicists’ commentary on debarking of dogs (pdf)