June 13, 2012

Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Zebrowski Announce Passage of Legislation to Prohibit the Needless Devocalization of Dogs and Cats
Bill Bans the Mutilation of an Animal's Vocal Chords

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski today announced the passage of a bill to prohibit the devocalization of dogs and cats when it is not medically necessary.

"It is unfortunate that any dog and cat owner would violate the laws of nature and have their pets surgically silenced because they are inconvenienced by the inherent sounds of the animals they have chosen to own," said Silver. "This unnecessary removal or alteration of a pet's vocal chords is one of the most offensive forms of animal cruelty and one that would be appropriately restricted by this legislation."

"The devocalization of an animal, for anything but a medical reason, is an irresponsible act. The bill would outlaw this invasive procedure, crack down on violators and spare animals the painful consequences of a grotesque, inhumane and unnecessary practice," said Zebrowski, the bill's sponsor.

The devocalization procedure is very harmful to an animal's health. Not only does it eliminate the cat or dog's primary and most critical form of communication, but it can also cause long-term respiratory and debilitating throat ailments.

Under the bill (A.3431-D), violators would face fines or incarceration and may be required to forfeit ownership of their pet. One of the measure's provisions would require the suspension or revocation of a veterinarian's license if convicted of performing an illegal devocalization.

In addition to banning the removal of an animal's vocal chords for non-medical reasons, the legislation would mandate individuals, such as veterinarians, to report to the State Education Department (SED) the aggregate number of devocalization procedures performed and require SED to develop regulatory and enforcement measures.