Some noisy neighbours can turn out to be a headache sometimes. Generally, humans are the ones who create the nuisance. The loud music or a noisy engine can be controlled by the humans but it’s really hard to control a baby crying or a dog barking, isn’t it?

For example, by letting the dog in the house we can make them silent. Often, dogs bark to communicate to the people by saying “let me in.” But this story is not based on the typical crew of barking dogs rather it’s about a family who owns working dogs to protect their folk of sheep from prey.

Whenever any threat appears near the farm, Tibetan Mastiffs barks to alarm the sheep along with the family that the predator is near. But now the neighbours have appealed in the court to act against the unbearable noise created by the dog. An Oregon appellate court has ordered that the owners must get their dogs surgically “debarked.” Debarking surgery is a process in which it removes partial or entire vocal cords of the dogs depending on whether it’s a partial or total debarking. This surgery is considered as an inhumane practice as it means cutting off his way of communicating and even the procedure has been restricted or banned in the six states.

Aimee Green/ The Oregonian/ Oregon Live

Debarking is an invasive surgery which leaves the dog more susceptible to certain types of infections. Debarking is infrequently performed since the American Veterinary Medical Association released their stance regarding the procedure after reviewing the limited available data in 2013. The procedure is opposed except“ as a final alternative to euthanasia.”

David B. Rosengard, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund(ALDF) said, “It is tragic that the dogs, in this case, face mutilation so extreme that and American Veterinary Medical Association decries it as only suitable as a final alternative to death. Whittling down a dog’s vocal cords for barking makes no sense than punishing a cow for mooing or a rooster for crowing.”

In Southern Oregon, Karen Szewc and John Updegraff own a small sheep farm. To protect their rare breed of sheep from cougars and other predators in the area, they have bred and kept Tibetan Mastiffs for years. Driving neighbour’s bananas is what makes the dog effective. Debra and Dale Krien, the plaintiffs, in this case, has testified that for a decade before filing a nuisance suit against Szewc and Updegraff in 2017, they had to suffer from the constant loud barking.

Aimee Green/ The Oregonian/ Oregon Live

They claimed that they had difficulties in sleeping and their visitors refused to come by which made their living conditions extremely hard. The court refused the appeal of the family and farmers. The jury was awarded $238,900 for damages. Similarly, the court ordered that the Mastiffs had to undergo a “total devocalization” within 60 days if any new Mastiffs were found in their property.

The court of appeals upheld the ruling last Friday.

This is an extremely rare case that one of the six dogs have already been de-barked. Szewc said, “We do not have the dogs to harass the neighbours. We have the dogs to protect our sheep. The next line of defence is a gun. I don’t need to use a gun if I can protect my sheep with dogs.”

The ALDF’s Rosengard said that at least the family has a humane option to move the dogs since the order applies only to dogs living on the property. This puts the farmers in a tough situation even if finding the new homes to the dogs could be a solution. The dogs have been the family since they were puppies and they are loved and cared.

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