Logan’s Law will end the cruelty of cutting dogs’ and cats’ vocal cords to stifle their voices.Â This landmark humane law was sponsored by Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets.Â Â
From 16-year-old suburbanite Jordan Star to 71-year-old Jordan Gallagher of Dorchester, an unfunded, grassroots network of pet owners and others from every corner of the state–many connected only by email–succeeded in passing landmark humane legislation wthout funding or a formal organization.
Filed by Star with Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, Logan’s Law prohibits devocalization of dogs and cats–cutting vocal cords specifically to suppress or remove the voice. It allows vocal cord surgery to treat disease, injury or birth defects. Gov. DevalÂ Patrick signed the bill into law on Thursday, April 22, 2010.
Although devocalization has long been prohibited throughout the UK, Logan’s Law is the first effective statewide legislation to ban this practice in the United States, according to Laura Allen, Esq., executive director, Animal Law Coalition. TheÂ House passed itÂ 155-1 on March 3,Â followed by Senate approval on April 1. Â
WHO IS LOGAN ANYWAY?
Logan’s Law is named for a show dog whose breeder had him devocalized, then gave him up when he stopped winning blue ribbons.
He was rescued by Gayle Fitzpatrick, founder, Friends of the Plymouth Pound, who says her adopted pet rasped and wheezed, retched and gagged relentlessly as a result of this l convenience surgery. "Logan did nothing to deserve this," says Fitzpatrick. "His vocal cords were cut for his breeder’s selfish best interest, so she could run her business in a residential neighborhood."
CUTTING FOR CONVENIENCE AND PROFIT
Coalition spokesperson Leslie Burg points out that Logan’s experience is not unique;Â breeders devocalize to keep many dogs without complaints from authorities–or because they like to profit from but not hear their animals. Show dog exhibitors and sled-dog hobbyists are also known to devocalize.
"Of the hundreds of devocalized dogs our volunteers have encountered or learned about since we filed this bill 15 months ago, only a handful were ordered devocalized by pet owners," Burg says. "Nearly all the devocalized dogsÂ were kept in groups for profit or hobby, then given up when no longer useful to the owner. Some cats are devocalized too."
CRUELTY UNDER THE RADAR
Burg points out that few who order or perform devocalization voluntarily disclose it, because it is widely considered inhumane. "Unfortunately, it is easy to hide. Unlike docked tails or cropped ears, cut vocal cords aren’t visible. Â People assume these animals have laryngitis. Who would imagine someone actually had an animal’s vocal cords cut to deal with barking or meowing? It’s unambiguously inhumane."
SERIOUS RISKS, NO BENEFIT FOR ANIMALS–NOT EVEN A SECURE HOME
More than 50 pieces of testimony submitted to the legislature by shelter executives,Â prominent veterinarians and animal behavior expertsÂ concurred: Cutting an animal’s vocal cords by any means for any purpose except to treat disease, injury or birth defects, as allowed by Logan’s Law, subjects animals to serious risks without any benefit, not even a secure home.
No matter how the vocal cords are cut or how experienced the vet, animals face risks and potential complications that can compromise them for life–from difficulty breathing to chronic gagging–or result in death,Â according toÂ veterinariansÂ who testified in support of banning devocalization.
Shelter executives say surgically altering animals to manage behavior does not keep them out of shelters. Devocalized animals are abandoned like any other.
"A dog’s or cat’s best chance is with an owner who chooses, houses, trains and cares for animals responsibly and humanely-and for whom the animal is a companion, not a profit center," according to Friends of the Plymouth Pound’s Gayle Fitzpatrick, a rescue volunteer for 30 years.
She adds, "Some people give more thought to buying a toaster oven than to selecting an animal who will share their homes and lives. Dogs bark, cats meow. Some breeds are more vocal than others, and most vocalize more in groups or when bored, lonely or anxious.Â If you’re not willing toÂ devote time to a dog or cat,Â or youÂ live where their sounds won’t be tolerated, don’t get one, and for heaven’s sake, don’t breed them!"
Logan’s Law is endorsed by animal shelters, animal behavior expertsÂ and more than 200 veterinarians statewide.Â
Hear what animal experts say: