Governor mulls bill to criminalize devocalization of cats and dogs

Governor mulls bill to criminalize devocalization of cats and dogs

Apr 15, 2010
By staff
Boston -- Devocalizing a dog or cat without medical cause will be a felony in Massachusetts if Gov. Deval Patrick signs a newly presented bill into law.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 150-1 in support of the bill in March, and the Senate approved for the bill soon after.

The law would allow licensed veterinarians to perform devocalizations if they're medically necessary to treat or relieve illnesses, diseases, injuries, or congenital abnormalities that are causing or may cause a pet physical pain or harm.

Massachusetts veterinarians would need to keep records for four years on the procedures and report the total number of devocalizations performed to an auditing board. Records would need to include:

> Name and address of the animal's owner;
> Name and address of the person from whom payment is received for the procedure > Description of the animal, including name, species, breed, date of birth, sex, color, markings and current weight;
> License number and municipality that issued such license for the animal > Date and time the procedure was performed; and
> Reason for the devocalization procedure and any diagnostic opinion, analysis or test results to support such diagnosis.

Violators would be subject to up to five years in state prison and fines of up to $2,500.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy o n devocalization is, "Canine devocalization should only be performed by qualified, licensed veterinarians as a final alternative after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed."

Gov. Patrick hasn't announced whether he'll sign the bill, which has been in the works since last year.