Dogs to be ‘debarked’ after neighbors sue about noise

Mute the mutts.

An Oregon couple must have their dogs surgically silenced after their neighbors complained that relentless noise disrupted their lives for more than a decade, a Beaver State appeals court ruled.

The official term for this operation done on dogs and cats is devocalization, but it’s often called “debarking.” No matter what it’s called, it’s controversial. It involves cutting an animal’s vocal cords, permanently muffling a main means of communicating.

Animal rights advocates see “debarking” as a cruel and unnecessary procedure. It’s banned in six states in some instances, including in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.

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In Oregeon, Pyrenean Mastiffs, like this one, face having their vocal cords sliced.

In Oregeon, Pyrenean Mastiffs, like this one, face having their vocal cords sliced.

(Laures/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association notes that “many practicing clinicians are refusing to perform” the operation. On the other hand, proponents note that devocalization can save animals from being put down.

The appeals court in Oregon deemed “debarking” is a proper solution, the Oregonian reports.

Debra and Dale Krein said they could no longer take the barking of the six or more Tibetan and Pyrenean Mastiffs owned by Karen Szewc and John Updegraff, their married next-door neighbors.

The barking, which began at 5 a.m. and continued for hours, started in 2002. The canine cacophony robbed them of sleep, kept visitors away and upset family members, according to the Kreins. They sued in 2012.

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In 2015, the court ruled that Szewc and Updegraff had to pay $238,000 to the Kreins, who argued that money didn’t solve the problem.

Judge Timothy Gerking agreed and ordered that the Mastiffs be debarked. On Wednesday, the Appeals Court upheld the $238,000 verdict and Gerking’s ruling.

Szewc said that efforts to silence her dogs have threatened her ability to run her farm.

“The dogs are my employees,” she said. “We do not have the dogs to harass the neighbors. We have the dogs to protect our sheep.”

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“The next line of defense is a gun. I don’t need to use a gun, if I can protect my sheep with dogs,” Szewc said. “This is a passive way of protecting livestock.”

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