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What You Need to Know about Logan's Law: Massachusetts Bans Devocalization of Dogs and Cats

Courtesy of the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets

On July 21, Logan’s Law took effect, making Massachusetts the first state to ban canine and feline devocalization – the cutting of vocal cords just to stifle an animal’s voice. Sponsored by Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, an unfunded, all-volunteer network of Massachusetts pet owners, the law was endorsed by animal shelters, rescue groups and more than 200 veterinarians statewide. They say devocalization subjects dogs and cats to serious risks without any benefit, not even the assurance of a secure home.  

Potentially life-threatening complications such as airway obstruction are common regardless of the vet’s skill or how the tissue is cut; the risk of internal scarring that may compromise breathing and cooling is actually greater with the less invasive procedure, in which instruments are inserted through the mouth rather than an incision in the neck.

Devocalized animals are given up for the same reasons as any other or because they’re not viable for breeding or exhibition; some have been sold without disclosure to unsuspecting pet owners.  Here’s what every Massachusetts resident needs to know about the new law.


About Logan’s Law

What it prohibits:

•  Vocal cord surgery performed on dogs and cats for any reason but medical necessity (to treat disease, injury or birth defects).
•  Sale of a devocalized animal without prior written notice to the buyer.

What it allows:

•  Vocal cord surgery to treat disease, injury or birth defects.

What it requires:

•  Veterinarians must document all vocal cord surgeries as follows: name and address of the owner and the person from whom payment is received; name, species, breed, date of birth, sex, color, markings and weight of the animal; license number and municipality in which it was issued; date and time the procedure was performed; reason it was performed and supporting evidence, such as test results. 
•  These records must be maintained by the vet for four years after the last contact with the animal.

Who orders vocal cord surgery to stifle an animal’s voice?

•  Primarily those who keep many dogs and/or cats for profit or hobby.
•  Those who hoard or fight animals.
•  Less often, those who keep one or few dogs and/or cats as companions.

Devocalized animals may exhibit some or all of the following traits.

•  Hoarse, squeaky or no voice.
•  Diminished or no vocal distinction.
•  Gagging and coughing.
•  Difficulty breathing and wheezing, particularly during exercise or in hot weather.
•  Not sure what to listen for? Watch "Faces of Devocalization" on
youtube.com
•  Want to know what experts say? Watch "The Unkindest Cut" on
youtube.com

What can you do to protect dogs and cats – and yourself?

•  If you suspect an animal has been devocalized, report it to Animal Control or local law enforcement; because the law is new, remind them devocalization is now illegal in Massachusetts.  Ask that they obtain the animal’s veterinary records to determine when the surgery was performed and whether it was medically necessary.
•  If you believe the animal you purchased was devocalized and you have not received written disclosure from the seller, report it to Animal Control or local law enforcement. You might also want to consult an attorney to determine your personal recourse.  
•  For more information: e-mail CPRPets@aol.com

 

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