Tragic death of show dog will hopefully shine a light on practice of debarking

No Gravatar

News sites and networks are abuzz today with the news that a dog who appeared in the recent Westminster Dog Show has died. The dog’s guardian claims he was poisoned and points to an individual she claimed became upset in a holding area when they heard “Cruz” had been debarked.

The media has paid very little attention to the debarking revelation. While Cruz’s death – poisoned or not – is a tragedy, I think more light needs hit on the subject of surgically altering a dog for this reason. Dogs bark as part of their means of communication. It’s mean to take that away from them, unless there is a medical reason behind the act.

So after I read the main story, I did the typical Internet search for the rest of the story. It did not take long.

A post on the ohmidog! blog from February of 2010 quoted David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, as saying – “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries.”

The post rightfully notes some veterinarians refuse to perform the surgery on ethical grounds. Some states have banned debarking for reasons other than those medically necessary. Banfield, the national veterinary hospital chain, as banned the surgeries in cases where barking is the issue.

So the question becomes – Why does the Westminster show allow it? I guess a big number of these show people just don’t want to be around the noise. They have ribbons and trophies to win. They can’t be bothered by barking.

We live with 10 rescue dogs and at times a few of them get really excited and they bark like crazy. In fact, as I’m typing this post, my wife just pulled up into the driveway and they’ve showing off their vocal abilities. It’s loud and it can be annoying at times, but I would never ‘debark’ them. It’s cruel and it should be banned everywhere.

For dogs that neighbors complain about, from their barking in the backyard, there is a solution. Bring them inside. Don’t make them live outside, where the constant barking can be annoying.