Call on NYSVMS to Support a Ban on Devocalization!

Update July 25, 2012: It’s not too early to try to get the New York State Veterinary Medical Society on board in support of a ban that will be introduced in the next legislative session on devocalization of dogs and cats.  That session will begin in New York in January, 2013. For more on the efforts to ban the cruel practice in New York during the past session, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

What can you do now?  Go to this link and sign a letter that will be sent to the NYSVMS, calling on this state veterinary organization to join thousands of individual NY veterinarians, shelters, rescues, and animal lovers in support of a ban on devocalization. The NYSVMS was instrumental in killing the ban in the NYS Senate this past session. We need to change their minds!

Update June 22, 2012: The 2012 session of the New York legislature has ended; the state Senate never took up the devocalization bill. In fact, the Senate sponsor, Sen. Lee Zeldin, never asked for a vote on the bill in the Senate. Clearly, the veterinary lobby won the day. And, just as clearly, the dogs and cats, particularly those used for breeding, lost.

Update June 13, 2012: The NYS Devocalization Ban, A 3431-D has been approved by the New York State Assembly by a vote of 138-4! The bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee. Call on Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to schedule the bill, A 3431-D, or its Senate counterpart, S. 6167-C, the bill to ban devocalization, for a Senate vote NOW. Don’t let this important bill die in the New York state senate. 

Cutting a dog’s or cat’s vocal cords just to have a “quiet” pet, known as devocalization, is so patently cruel–even when performed by a veterinarian–it’s illegal in many countries and since 2010 in Massachusetts. Devocalized animals face horrible risks without any benefit, not even a secure home. The “lucky” ones struggle to breathe the rest of their lives. Others die horribly when they choke on food or inhale vomit into their lungs. 

Countdown to June 21: That’s when the 2011-12 NYS legislative session ends. Without your continued activism, it could also be the end of our hope for an enforceable law banning devocalization. This practice is so cruel, it has long been illegal in many countries and since 2010 in Massachusetts.

It’s time for New York to step up.

They’ve Heard From Pro-Devocalization Lobbies. 

Now They Need to Hear From Pro-Animal Voices! Agriculture committee members have been lobbied relentlessly by the veterinary association to defeat this humane bill-vets profit from devocalization!

For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update May 2, 2012: The New York Assembly version of the bill to ban devocalization, A. 3431B has passed the Agriculture Committee! The bill now goes to the Codes Committee chaired by Assembly Member Joe Lentol.

For more on this bill and how you can help pass it, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update April 18, 2012: The New York State Veterinary Medical Association (NYSVMA) is actively opposing A 3431-B/S 6167-A, the bill to ban devocalization of dogs and cats in the state.

Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski, the sponsor of A 3431-B, has made some concessions to NYSVMA’s lobbyists by stripping from the Assembly version of the bill certain enforcement mechanisms including the requirement any veterinarian performing devocalization must file with the education department a record establishing the procedure was medically necessary and also notify owners of the devocalization. Also eliminated from the Assembly version of the bill was the requirement that pet shops, pet dealers and others sellling a devocalized dog or cat must notify prospective purchasers of the devocalization and failure to do so would be an actionable unfair or deceptive trade practice and make the purchase voidable.

The Senate version, S 6167-A, sponsored by Sen. Lee Zeldin has not been amended, but both Assembly Member Zebrowski and Sen. Zeldin are under intense pressure from NYSVMS lobbyists to weaken the bill so much there would be no point in passing it. NYSVMS has, for example, said “pet owners” should be able to have their vets devocalize dogs and cats. But devocalization is cruel no matter who requests it. Devocalization does not help owners keep pets. Instead, devocalization can mean an animal is more likely to be surrendered to a shelter or abandoned. Most of the devocalized animals located by advocates who worked to pass the Massachusetts law in 2010 were found in shelters where they had been dumped by breeders and other owners.

In fact, devocalization does not address the reasons a dog may be barking or a cat crying.  Because the animal’s distress, anxiety, illness, poor training, or whatever is causing the barking or crying, has not been addressed, it is likely to manifest in other worse behaviors, like biting or soiling in the house, increasing the likelihood the animal is given to a shelter. Also, there are risks with devocalization especially buildup of scar tissue that mean the procedure must often be done more than once. There can be side effects like airway obstruction, paralysis of the larynx, choking, gagging, coughing, etc. The more vet bills to treat side effects or complications, the more likely the animal will end up in a shelter. After all, if an owner doesn’t want to hear an animal, it’s unlikely the owner will spend money to pay vets to treat complications from the procedure.

Devocalized animals are given up like any other and actually barking is not typically a reason dogs are surrendered to shelters.

As it stands now, A 3431-B would still make it a crime  to devocalize or cut the vocal cords of dogs and cats except in cases of medical necessity to treat or relieve an illness, disease, or injury, or correct a congenital abnormality that is causing or will cause the dog or cat medical harm or pain.

Under the bill only a veterinarian could perform the procedure using anesthesia and who would then be required to keep a record of the devocalization. The vet would also be required to report the number of devocalizations performed annually to the state Board for Veterinary Medicine.

Under the bill a violation would still be a Class A misdemeanor with a possible fine up to $5,000 and jail time up to one year. A veterinarian who performs a devocalization illegally could still be subject to suspension or revocation of his or her license.

For more on this bill and devocalization, read Animal Law Coalition’s oroiginal report below. 

Original report: There is a growing movement to stop the devocalization of dogs and cats. Devocalization is nothing less than the cutting of a dog or cat’s vocal cords. It is also known as “debarking”, “silencing”, or “bark softening”. Devocalization is typically done by veterinarians paid by owners, usually breeders, who don’t want to hear the dogs or cats they are breeding for profit. Devocalizing also enables breeders to keep more dogs and cats for breeding without disturbing neighbors and even try to escape licensing or other regulation. In short, devocalization is an act of animal cruelty done for convenience and profit. No matter who is cutting the animal’s vocal cords, it’s animal cruelty.

A bill in New York, A.B. 3431, introduced by Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski and the senate version, S.B. 6167, sponsored by state Sen. Lee Zeldin, would ban devocalization of dogs and cats except in the rare event it is medically necessary as determined by a licensed veterinarian to treat or relieve a physical illness, injury or diseases or correct a congenital abnormality that is causing or could reasonably cause the animal physical pain or harm.

Animal Law Coalition has endorsed this legislation; our position statement is attached below for downloading. The move to pass this landmark legislation is spearheaded by the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets which championed the first of its kind devocalization ban which was enacted in Massachusetts in 2010. It’s now time for New York to do the same.

What would the proposed NY State law do? What loopholes are pro-devocalization lobbies pushing? Visit this site:  

Just click on the following links or copy/paste them into your browser.
How is devocalization done? What are the risks?

READ WHAT CONCERNED VETS AND ANIMAL RESCUERS SAY about how devocalization endangers dogs’ and cats’ lives without any benefit for them, not even a secure home. 


Click on this link or copy/paste it into your browser to learn how you can help in just 5 minutes – without spending a dime.


Devocalization, cutting vocal cords to stifle a dog’s or cat’s voice, is illegal in Mass. & most of Europe. Act NOW to ban it in NY State & protect animals from lifelong suffering or agonizing death-common outcomes no matter how skilled the vet or how the tissue is cut.

Learn & share:


Act NOW to end cruel dog/cat devocalization in NY State! Learn & share:


No vet should perform OR sanction surgery whose sole purpose is to mask an animal’s behavior. Devocalization is mutilation, not rescue.

Please Act NOW. Without Your Voice, Animals Will Have None. Literally.

Sponsors of This Humane Legislation

Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets
Friends of Animals


American Humane Association
Animal Law Coalition
Best Friends Animal Society
League of Humane Voters
Humane Society of the United States
Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
New York City Bar Association
New York State Humane Association
Social Workers Advancing the Human-Animal Bond

Joined By

Concerned veterinarians, animal shelters and rescue organizations, and animal behavior experts throughout New York State

One thought on “Call on NYSVMS to Support a Ban on Devocalization!”

  1. I had no idea that this was such a horrific procedure. I knew a Great Dane owner who had her dog debarked 3 times until he didn’t bark anymore. I sure wish I was still in contact with her so I could find out what vet in the San Diego area would even perform this mutilation. I did know that I had never met anyone else who had this “surgery” so that right there should have cued me in. This is even worse than ear cropping, which is a standard mutilation of Great Danes. I picked up from the vet and took care of a young dog who had this done and it was horrible. He was screaming, and frantic from pain. The recovery is hard and the taping of the ears a nightmare. Natural sounds and natural ears and tails are what the Great Creator designed and as it should remain. I am going to publicize this as I am certain that there are thousands of others that do not know how horrible this is.

Comments are closed.