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RI lawmaker: outlaw "debarking" of dogs, cats

March 28, 2011

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A leading Rhode Island state lawmaker says the state should outlaw the surgical removal of the vocal chords of a dog or cat.

Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio announced legislation Monday to prohibit so-called "debarking" surgery unless a veterinarian deems it medically necessary. It's used by some breeders and pet owners as a way to deal with especially loud animals.

Ruggerio, a Providence Democrat, calls the surgery painful, inhumane and almost always unnecessary. He says the surgery can lead to dangerous complications such as breathing problems.

Ruggerio says four states already restrict or ban the practice.