A bill proposing the ban of devocalization surgeries on cats and dogs throughout Massachusetts except in cases of medical necessity is awaiting action in the Massachusetts Legislature. Approved last year by the House Judiciary Committee and referred in October to the three-member House Committee on Bills, HB 344 was filed by 16-year-old Jordan Star of Needham in concert with the all-volunteer Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets. Star was inspired to try to end devocalization after finding a devocalized dog in a shelter and being prevented from adopting the dog because of the irritating nature of his voice. In 2008, the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets successfully lobbied for legislation barring pet rental throughout Massachusetts.
According to Rep. Bill Bowles, “Devocalization performed for the [guardian’s] convenience is a cruel procedure that should be banned. H344 will ensure that this procedure is only performed when it medically necessary for the health of the dog or cat.” HB 344 is supported by more than 200 Massachusetts vets, Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, among others, but is facing intense opposition from the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association and various breeders’ club. According to Leslie Burg, member of the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, “Lobbyists are hindering the bill even though the public overwhelmingly supports it. A poll conducted in December 2009 revealed that 84 percent of Massachusetts adults oppose cutting vocal cords to suppress the voice of a dog or cat.”
The ban would not apply in instances where devocalization is used to treat disease, congenital abnormalities, and injury. Also known as “Logan’s Law” in memory of a show dog who was devocalized and then given up for adoption by a breeder, as of press time HB 344 is under threat of losing momentum entirely within the state Legislature.
To voice your support for banning devocalization of animals, contact your local legislators and ask them to pass HB 344 as originally written. To find out how to contact your local representative and senator, call (800) 462-8683 or WhereDoIVoteMA.com