Controversial 'Debarking' Surgery Explored - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Controversial 'Debarking' Surgery Explored

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX----To some people there is nothing more annoying than a barking dog  and pet owners sometimes spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on training and tools to stop the barking.

However, others are opting for a more extreme approach. The alternative is a surgery called debarking. The procedure removes a K-9's vocal chords, softening their bark. Some opponents say it's inhumane, but some veterinarians say it's only cruel if it's not done right.

Alisha Steinmetz's dog was already debarked when she rescued him from an abusive owner.

"He has no vocal chords and he screams," Steinmetz said. "That's the only way he can talk."

She said every time he screams, he sounds like he's in pain.

"Every time I hear it I just feel so bad for him," Steinmetz said.

Sherman veterinarian Dr. Ken Lawrence said most dogs who've been debarked can still bark, but that they release a more muffled sound. He said the surgery doesn't hurt the dog.

"I've personally never seen any side effects that I know of other than they're a little hoarse for a few days," Lawrence said. "I'm sure their throat is a little sore, but after the week I've never seen anything."

Dr. Lawrence believes debarking should be a last defense against barking and that other steps should be taken first. He recommends using quiet commands, training techniques and a citronella collar.

He said the main reason many pet owners ask for this surgery is because their neighbors have filed police reports complaining about the loud noise.

Despite the legal trouble these dogs may be costing their owners, pet lovers we talked to today say there's no excuse to debark your dog.

"It's very inhumane," said one pet lover.

"You wouldn't do it to a human," said another pet lover. "Why would you do it to a dog?"

It's unknown how many of the surgeries are preformed in the United States each year, but the Dr. Lawrence said he typically performs about five a year.