Controversial Procedure Devocalizes Dogs To Silence Barking - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Controversial Procedure Devocalizes Dogs To Silence Barking

NBC.COM: When Porter, a 123-pound black Newfoundland, attempts to bark, it comes out as a raspy cough. When Lola, a 6-pound long-haired Chihuahua, tries, she emits only a whispery squeak.

Both dogs have been "devocalized," or surgically muffled, using a controversial procedure regarded as either barbaric mutilation by lazy pet owners -- or as the last resort of animal lovers desperate to keep their furry companions.

Porter's owner, Sue Perry, a 58-year-old Connecticut bookkeeper, and Lola's owner, Karen Mahmud, a 43-year-old New York nutrition blogger, fall squarely into the first camp. They're part of the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets, an activist group that helped get the practice known as "debarking" or "devoicing" outlawed in Massachusetts two years ago. Now they have set their sights on the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"I was just horrified by this," said Perry, who adopted Porter from a rescue agency five years ago. "When he tried to bark, I was, like, ‘What the heck?'"

Though they've never met in person, the two women have joined to launch an online petition demanding that the AVMA, the nation's leading group of veterinarians, condemn devocalization when the organization reviews its policy on the procedure later this year. So far, more than 125,000 people have signed onto their cause.

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This story was filed by KHQ's Nichole Mischke.