Dec. 16, 2019 By Kristen Torres
A Queens lawmaker has introduced legislation to ban “devocalization” surgeries on household pets — a procedure that leaves cats and dogs unable to communicate.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents western Queens, announced the legislation on Dec. 14 while speaking at PetCon NYC — a nationwide conference for animal rights leaders and influencers.
“We need to be the voice of animals who cannot speak for themselves,” said Senator Gianaris in a statement. “With this ban, we fight back against a violent procedure meant to convenience humans at great pain to their companions.”
Devocalization surgery removes an animal’s ability to bark or meow by taking out vocal cord tissue. The procedure can lead to respiratory issues and psychological damage, according to a statement by Gianaris.
New York Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski introduced a companion bill early this year, which will also restrict the performance of surgical devocalization procedures on dogs and cats.
Animal rights leaders throughout the city are backing Gianaris’ legislation.
“Barking is a way for a dog to let their humans know there’s a problem,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. “Barking is part of a dog’s behavior. Good training can stop unnecessary barking. There’s no need to put any animal through unnecessary surgery that is a potential health hazard.”
Gianaris passed legislation earlier this year—that has become law—prohibiting the practice of declawing cats.
He also introduced legislation that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores across New York State. That bill did not make it to the floor for a vote.