Controversial surgery stops dogs from barking

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A controversial surgery stops dogs from barking forever.

In the surgery, referred to as debarking or bark softening, severs the dog's vocal cords.

Tony Gabrielli had his dog Buck debarked 11 years ago.

"There were a lot of squirrels and he would just bark and bark at them," Gabrielli said.

Neighbors complained and called the police.

"I bought the bark collar, bought spray," Gabrielli said, "and when he'd bark, I'd squirt him and it didn't phase him at all."

Giving up Buck was not an option for Gabrielli, so he took Buck to the vet to be debarked.

"I cried," Gabrielli said.  "I was really afraid to do it, but I didn't feel I had any other choice."

Gabrielli still gets choked up about it to this day.

"I was in the operating room when they did it.  It was awful for me," Gabrielli said.  "I'm thinking I need to apologize to him."

Some vets do not advocate debarking but are not always opposed to it.

"I do see cases where it is really the best option left for these people," one vet said.

Cutting a dog's vocal cords should always be an absolute last resort.  Barking is a dog's barrier to germs and their main form of communication.  If done improperly, scar tissue can form and dogs can have a bark that's louder and more annoying than the one they had before surgery.

Buck was able to shake it off and bounce back, minus his bark.

"Even three days later, he was as frisky as can be," Gabrielli said.

At the age of 14, or 98 in dog years, Buck has sired 22 litters.

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