In this country it seems we are always faced with how to regulate morality. I put debarking in this class. Although the AR groups claim it is "inhumane", I can not buy that argument. I have witnessed this surgical procedure done and feel that if this surgery is deemed "inhumane"- then there are far more surgeries and procedures that we do to ourselves, our children, and yes- even our pets- that we should also label "inhumane". No, I think that the question of debarking is a moral question- not a "humane" question.
This article addresses the pros and cons of surgical debarking and also addresses the arguments people have that are for or against the procedure. This author concludes it should be a last resort, but still be allowed. I think it should be the decision of the owner. Personally, I think issue of "humanity" involve being a good neighbor. There is a lot of talk about dogs needing to use their bark to warn people of impending danger- but what about the dog who "crys wolf" (you do know that story don't you?)- You know, the dog that barks incessantly at the squirrels at the neighbors bird feeder, the dog barks so much that no one would believes them anyway, even if there was an intruder entering the neighbors house instead of just another squirrel. If a person wants to surgically debark their dog so that they can co-exist peacefully in a residential neighborhood, and still keep the dog they love, well I think that should be their own decision.
Should You Surgically Debark Your Dog?
February 21, 2010
Debarking, or bark softening, saves lives and helps neighbor relations
By Charlotte Clem McGowan, a dog show judge for the American Kennel Club and author of "The Shetland Sheepdog in America." She has been a hobby dog breeder for more than 40 years.
I have debarked dogs for decades. Debarking has made it possible to keep my dogs in a residential neighborhood and be a good neighbor. A skilled surgeon can debark a dog in a very simple procedure using an adenoid punch to make a tiny hole in each vocal chord. This method is virtually bloodless. The dog recovers quickly and is not stressed by the surgery. The dog will not be silent, but his bark will be reduced in pitch and volume.
Breeds like shelties were used to keep livestock out of gardens, to keep birds of prey from taking lambs and as guards and alarms. They are very, very talkative. Shelties bark for all kinds of reasons, including joy. They also bark with a generally high-pitched, piercing bark that can be extremely annoying. Debarking takes them from annoying to manageable. Since shelties, by nature, will bark at birds and squirrels and while playing and having fun, keeping shelties in any number larger than one is difficult.
Veterinarians provide a valuable service with debarking. A dog that can bark at squirrels and while playing without being constantly disciplined is a happy dog. The urge to bark does not diminish, but the noise level does. The chief reason shelties are dumped in shelters is barking. Sheltie rescuers can easily re-home these dogs when they are debarked. So debarking saves lives.
While some people believe you can train any dog not to bark, I know from 40 years of extensive experience with shelties that this is not true. Some dogs just bark to bark.
More information at http://www.naiaonline.org/body/articles/archives/debark_qna.htm