New York State is considering a bill that would ban the devocalization of cats and dogs. Devocalization, also known as debarking, convenience devocalization, bark softening, vocal cordectomy, and ventriculocordectomy, involves removing tissue from the animal’s vocal cords to reduce the volume of the sound. A devocalized animal will still make sounds—just not as loudly. The sound is more hoarse, raspy, or husky in nature.
The surgery is performed in one of two ways: going in through the animal’s mouth or through an incision in the throat and then through the larynx. The first method is preferred but both have their risks. The removed tissue may grow back or scar tissue may develop blocking the throat. If either of these occurs, the animal has to undergo a second surgery. Bleeding and infection are other complications of this surgery. Another complication of the surgery, one not often thought of, is the new sound may be just as annoying as the old one—just not heard at as great a distance.