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AVMA delegates to scrutinize debarking policy

AVMA delegates to scrutinize debarking policy

A resolution strongly opposing the debarking, or devocalizing, of dogs for reasons of convenience will be considered in July by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates.

The proposed revision would strengthen the organization’s current policy, which calls non-therapeutic devocalization surgery “a final alternative to euthanasia” after behavioral modification efforts have failed.

Some dog owners fed up with a pet’s constant barking choose devocalization as a solution.

Resolution 4, which is scheduled to go before the House of Delegates at the AVMA Convention in Denver, calls barking “a natural behavior and method of communication for dogs.”

“Significant risks and complications are associated with the surgery,” states the resolution, which instead recommends using “veterinary acceptable methods of modifying” annoying dog behavior.

The policy change was proposed by the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee.

“This policy revision redirects the emphasis … from the rare and marginal conditions under which devocalization may be ethically justified to the need for AVMA to oppose convenience devocalization as a non-therapeutic procedure that negatively impacts the welfare of the dog,” the committee summarized. “The approach to the revised policy and its language are aligned with that of policies addressing comparable non-therapeutic procedures performed on dogs such as tooth removal and ear cropping and tail docking.”

The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking when done solely for cosmetic purposes.

The board of directors did not make a recommendation in sending the resolution to the House of Delegates.

AVMA policies serve as guiding principles for the practice of veterinary medicine.

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