HB 344: Devocalization law could harm more than it helps
By Beth Coughlin, Boston Dog Laws Examiner
Only July 14th the Massachusetts State House of Representatives will be holding a committee meeting regarding House Bill 344 (HB344): An Act Prohibiting the Devocalization of Dogs and Cats.
On the surface, many dog-lovers may say "good law".
When you really dig deeper, below the surface this is really bad legislation that has the potential to land otherwise potentially great dogs in death row awaiting destruction because they have a proclivity for barking.
Certain breeds, including shetland sheep dogs and several breeds of terriers are high-alert dogs. Regardless of the training methods you use: positive reinforcement, punishment, desensitization, homopathy and even medication, they will continue to bark in a manner that can cause nuisance dog complaints.
Likewise, some neighbors will opt to complain even if a dog's behavior is below the threshhold set by nuisance dog laws.
This law does not view the potential risk of being euthanized due to nuisance complaints a "legitimate health risk". While many dog owners would agree that there are some people too ready to devocalize, this is a topic that should be handled from an education, not legislation approach.
While all other options should be explored prior to resorting to devocalization, better safe in a home with a smaller, raspy bark then in a shelter wondering if "tomorrow is the day."
Contact your representative and let them know this is a bad law when you look at the larger picture. In the sheep's clothing of animal welfare, animal rights activists have advocated turning a legitimate veterinary procedure into a Felony Offense.
For more info: Full text of HB344