Animal lovers are outraged after a Jackson County, Oregon court ordered a couple’s Tibetan mastiffs must be “debarked” – have their vocal chords surgically removed, due the noise the dogs have created for the neighbors because of their barking.
According to WsbtvNews, neighbors Debra and Dale Krein filed complaints against the dogs they claimed “barked uncontrollably for long periods of time while the defendants were away from the residence.” Karen Szewc and John Updegraff, the owners of the dogs, argued the six dogs that live on the farm are vital to the family business because the dogs barking scare off predators that can kill their livestock. The family and their dogs live on a 3.4 parcel of land with sheep, goats, chickens – all of which adds a small annual income.
“We do not have the dogs to harass the neighbors,” testified Szewc. “We have the dogs to protect our sheep.”
The barking started in 2002, but the Kreins did not sue their neighbors until ten years later. They told the court the barking would begin at 5:00 a.m. and continued for hours – even after Szewc and Updegraff left their home for the day. The Kreins were deprived of sleep, forced to turn the volume up on their television and stated their children didn’t want to come home from school. The family had audio recordings to prove their case.
In 2015, the Kreins were awarded $238,000 after they argued the barking had been disruptive to their lives. Even after the Kreins won their case, however they continued to argue that the judgment against the dog owners didn’t stop the dogs from barking in the future. Judge Timothy Gerking agreed and ordered the dogs be “debarked” surgically – devocalization involves cutting the vocal chords.
The Oregon Humane Society states it is inhumane and unnecessary to remove an animal’s primary means of communication. Six states have outlawed the procedure under certain circumstances. Supporters of the surgical operation state it can save dogs and cats with issues from being euthanized and still allows animals to express themselves with soft or muffled barks or meows.
Szewc said they had one of their dogs “debarked” in 2010, and the results were disastrous when one cougar ran off with six lambs in one week. The ruling was made by a three-judge panel of the Appeals Court. Read the opinion here.
Szewc is unsure how she will proceed – as whether or not to appeal the decision.
(Photos via Facebook)
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