OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma rescue, Husky Halfway House, is seeking to get a law put in place that will prevent devocalization, or debarking, of dogs in the state.
Their goal to get this law passed came after they received two huskies who were debarked, or had part of their vocal cords removed.
Husky Halfway House was contacted by an out-of-state rescue who notified them that two huskies had been placed in their care by a licensed breeder in Texas.
“We were informed that they had been debarked or devocalized prior to the rescue getting a hold of them, and we learned that the breeder in Texas does this to all of their dogs,” said Jessi Alexander, social media and marketing manager at Husky Halfway House.
Selene and Sonja, estimated to be four or five years old, then were brought to Husky Halfway House in early January.
“They arrived to us really late at night and they were scared and skittish and very stressed just from being moved around,” Alexander.
But their sound, or lack of, was something the rescue was unsure about.
“So the next morning is whenever we noticed that, you know, just how heartbreaking it was,” said Alexander. “Our director, Jenny, was inside and she could just barely hear like the small hissing sound and went outside, and it just breaks your heart to hear them like that.”
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association defines devocalization as partial removal of the vocal cords with the goal to muffle or eliminate dog barking.
Although there is not necessarily a medical reason for this surgery, it is sometimes court-ordered for owners if they get noise complaints. The other option is to get rid of the pet.
The procedure, although not common practice, is still performed in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners sent the following statement to KFOR regarding devocalization:
“In Oklahoma it is not prohibited to debark a dog, but on the flip side of that there are several states that do prohibit this practice – because we are complaint driven we review any and all complaints related to the practice of veterinary medicine to ensure all animals are protected from the improper, and illegal practice of veterinary medicine and we have had no complaints related to debarking.”
With the new additions to their care, Husky Halfway House is now determined to put an end to debarking in Oklahoma. They’ve started an online petition with the goal of reaching 20,000 signatures before presenting it to lawmakers.
“Right now it’s just building up those signatures, getting some momentum behind us,” said Alexander. “Then we present it to Oklahoma lawmakers and eventually the whole country.”
As for what’s next for Selene and Sonja…
“We’re slowly integrating them into play groups and they’re starting to approach the people at the rescue. So that’s good,” said Alexander. “They’re making moves. They are improving, which tells us that eventually they will be able to trust people and they will be adoptable. So once we have fully rehabilitated them, we’ll make them adoptable.”