Code of Practice for Debarking of Dogs

This Code aims to protect the welfare of dogs from indiscriminate debarking and to encourage considerate management of debarked dogs. This Code is complementary to and should be read in conjunction with Clause 9(l) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which prohibits debarking of dogs except by and on the advice of a registered veterinary practitioner and in accordance with this Code of Practice.

Meaning of debarking

For the purposes of this Code 'debarking' means the surgical operation performed by a registered veterinary practitioner to reduce the noise of a dog's bark. When a dog is debarked its ability to communicate with other animals and human beings is reduced. Most debarked dogs have a subdued 'husky' bark, audible up to 20 metres.

Circumstances in which a dog may be debarked

This code recognises that debarking a dog may be necessary for therapeutic or prophylactic effects, or as an alternative to euthanasia for a dog declared to be a public nuisance because it barks persistently.

A dog is a public nuisance where there have been written complaints from the occupiers of not less than two neighbouring residences or in isolated areas two written complaints from persons occupying the same residence, submitted to the Municipal offices, and investigation by an authorised officer of the municipality confirms that despite every reasonable effort by the owner to discourage the dog from barking by considerate care, training and management the dog continues to bark persistently.

This Code does not approve of debarking as a substitute for proper care, management and training of a dog. When management changes and training are undertaken, sufficient time should always be allowed for behaviour changes in a dog to be evident.

Responsibilities of the owner in the case of a dog which is a public nuisance

An owner who intends to have a dog debarked BECAUSE IT IS A PUBLIC NUISANCE must first complete a Statutory Declaration to the effect that the dog is a public nuisance because of its persistent barking and that every reasonable effort has been made to discourage the dog from barking by considerate care, training and management. The owner is to further declare that the only alternative to debarking the dog is to have it destroyed. A model Statutory Declaration is attached.

The owner must also obtain from the Chief Executive Officer (or delegate) of the Council of the Municipal District in which the dog is registered a written declaration that certifies that:

  • there have been written complaints from two or more neighbouring residences or, in isolated areas, two written complaints from the same residence, submitted to the Municipal offices, and
  • an authorised officer of the Municipality has investigated the complaints and has confirmed that reasonable efforts by the owner have failed to discourage the dog from persistently barking.

A model declaration is in the Appendix.

The registered veterinary practitioner who is to perform the debarking operation is required to notify the Bureau of Animal Welfare within 7 days of each such operation. A model declaration is in the Appendix.

In the case of a licensed scientific establishment, the Statutory Declaration may be accompanied by a certificate from the Bureau of Animal Welfare in lieu of a certification by the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) of the Municipality. Any dog found to be a persistent barker during its holding and preparation period should not be held for scientific purposes.

Responsibilities of the registered veterinary practitioner

Before agreeing to perform a debarking operation the registered veterinary practitioner should consider the history and physical condition of the dog and arrangements for post-operative care and management. If the welfare of a dog after debarking is likely to be jeopardised because it is not able to attract attention to discomfort or danger, the dog should not be debarked.

The recommended method for debarking

The recommended method for debarking (ventriculocordectomy) is by using a ventral laryngotomy approach as compared to the oral approach. The two primary post-operative complications of either procedure are return to bark and stricture or 'webbing' of the glottis. Some return of the bark can be expected after ventriculocordectomy, especially with the oral approach. The ventral approach gives more consistent and satisfactory results because it permits better exposure and, generally, more complete removal of the vocal cords.

Owners of dogs who request 'debarking' should be advised of the possible complications. The registered veterinary practitioner must be certain that clients understand the risks and limitations of the procedure before accepting the case.

The registered veterinary practitioner should also advise the owner or person-in-charge on the care and management of a debarked dog. It may not be necessary to completely separate a debarked dog from other dogs but care should always be taken soon after the operation or with dogs that are unfamiliar to the debarked dog.

Approved by the Governor in Council 16 March 1999
Issued by the Minister for Agriculture and Resources
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
Published in the Government Gazette 12 August 1999
Gazette Number G32

Appendices:

DECLARATION BY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

I..................................................................................................................................................
FULL NAME (printed)

Chief Executive Officer (or delegate)* of.......................................................................................

....................................................................................................................................................
NAME OF COUNCIL (printed)

certify that in respect of the following mentioned dog:

....................................................................................................................................................
BREED, DESCRIPTION, NAME AND COUNCIL REGISTRATION NUMBER

(i) there have been written complaints from the occupiers of not less than two neighbouring residences or in isolated areas two written complaints from persons occupying the same residence, submitted to the Municipal offices, and

(ii) investigation by an authorised officer of the municipality confirms that despite every reasonable effort by the owner to discourage the dog from barking by considerate care, training and management the dog continues to bark persistently.

DATE....................................... SIGNATURE..............................................................

*(or in the case of a scientific establishment, a certificate from the Bureau of Animal Welfare).

DECLARATION BY REGISTERED VETERINARY PRACTITIONER

The above dog was submitted to ventriculocordectomy by me.

....................................................................................................................................................
NAME AND ADDRESS (printed)

DATE....................................... SIGNATURE..............................................................

The Registered Veterinary Practitioner should forward the completed declaration within 7 days to the
Director, Bureau of Animal Welfare,
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
475/485 Mickleham Road,
Attwood, 3049.

OWNERS STATUTORY DECLARATION FOR DEBARKING A DOG THAT IS A PUBLIC NUISANCE

To be completed and presented to the Registered Veterinary Practitioner who will debark the dog. All sections are to be completed and the document is to be witnessed by an authorised person.

I..................................................................................................................................................
FULL NAME (printed)

of................................................................................................................................................
ADDRESS (printed)

being the owner of........................................................................................................................

....................................................................................................................................................
BREED, DESCRIPTION, NAME AND COUNCIL REGISTRATION NUMBER

request that the above dog be debarked because it is a public nuisance as it barks persistently and I have made every reasonable effort to discourage the dog from so barking by considerate care, training and management. The only remaining effective alternative to debarking the dog is to destroy it.

I have read the Code of Practice for Debarking Dogs.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the Parliament of Victoria rendering persons making a false Declaration punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury.

Declared at.............................................................. in the

State of Victoria this............................... day of …....

Before me...........................................................................

A PERSON WHO IS AUTHORISED UNDER SECTION 107A OF THE EVIDENCE ACT 1958*

  • The persons authorised under Section 107A include a justice of the peace or bail justice in Victoria, a qualified medical practitioner, a municipal councillor, a member of the Police Force, a dentist, a Veterinarian, a pharmacist, a principal in the teaching service, an accountant, a minister of religion and certain court officials.

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Page last updated: 23 Jun 2020