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Massachusetts enacts ban against devocalization surgery for pets

A groundbreaking humane law just took effect, making Massachusetts the first state to ban vocal cord surgery performed solely to suppress or remove the voice of a dog or cat. Logan’s Law was sponsored by Coalition to Rescue and Protect Pets, an unfunded, grassroots organization of pet owners and other concerned individuals; it was endorsed by animal shelters and more than 200 sympathetic veterinarians throughout the state. 
The law was named for a show dog whose breeder had him devocalized and then abandoned him when he stopped winning blue ribbons. His rescuer, Gayle Fitzpatrick of Friends of the Plymouth Pound, says Logan rasped and wheezed, coughed and retched relentlessly as a result of this needless surgery until the day he died. His sad case is not unusual.
 According to veterinarians who testified in support of Logan’s Law, complications such as scarring are common regardless of who performs the surgery and whether vocal cord tissue is cut through the animal’s mouth or an incision in the neck. Risks range from a lifetime of gagging and coughing to premature death from heat stroke, aspiration pneumonia, choking or surgical complications.
What makes this risky, painful procedure unethical is that dogs and cats don’t benefit from it: Shelters and rescue groups testified that devocalized dogs and cats are abandoned just like any other.

 Who would do this to a helpless dog or cat?  Coalition spokeswoman Leslie Burg says that nearly all the devocalized animals volunteers encountered in a year of campaigning had been owned by breeders and show dog exhibitors, who may order the surgery when they—or authorities—don’t tolerate the sound of their many animals or to keep dogs quiet in the ring and in transit between shows. Some of the devocalized dogs were sold without disclosure to unwitting pet owners.

Drafted by Animal Law Coalition, Logan’s Law adds devocalization to the offenses punishable under the state’s animal cruelty statute. It allows vocal cord surgery for the only reasons deemed ethical by animal welfare organizations: to treat disease, injury or birth defects. To learn more, contact
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