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Dogs who can't bark

Imagine walking into a room filled with caged dogs. One would expect to be greeted by a chorus of barking erupting from the caged canines. However, in some test laboratories the dogs devocalized.

Devocalization is a surgical procedure whose only purpose is to prevent the patient from barking. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) classifies the devocalization of any dog in the same category as other non-therapeutic surgeries such as "declawing, ear cropping and tail docking."

Devocalization is unlike the other non-therapeutic procedures in that it is an invasive surgery and as such carries risk of complications and pain. The HSVMA states devocalization is an "invasive procedure with the inherent risks of anesthesia, infection, blood loss, and other serious complications."

Given the complexity, the obvious cost, and the potential complications that devocalization can create, one would think it is only performed on lab animals when a major benefit is perceived to occur.Why else would this procedure be performed on lab dogs?

The answer is surprisingly simple and shockingly cruel. A report by LA KTLA Channel 5 Television, claims "the vocal chords of lab dogs are removed so they don't disturb the lab technicians. Beagle hounds are the most popular breed of dogs used by laboratories. The reason is their small size and friendly nature makes them easy to handle.

One wonders why lab technicians aren’t issued ear plugs to muffle the barks of the lab dogs that is so discomforting. Or, is it that the workers don’t want to hear the whining, howling, and moaning of the dogs who are being experimented on. Also, who supplies dogs for lab use, and who performs the devocalization surgery on an animal?

The breeding and sale of beagle hounds for use as lab dogs is big business. For exampleRidglan Farms a major supplier of beagles used for Laboratory animals and claims they provide the "Finest Beagle in the industry."The operation is a big one by any measure. The company claims to have "a breeding colony of 750 bitches and 70 studs.

Ridglan farms informs its website visitors it has “sixteen whelping rooms with twenty individual whelping kennels per room, four separate nurseries each housing 200-300 puppies ages 2-4 months, and two grower barns with dogs ranging in age from 4 to 18 months old.”

The statistics on the number of devocalizations the company performs are not available of its website. However, Ridglan does claim "In addition to the Finest Beagle in the industry we provide the following,"...: Devocalization is one of nine services the company than lists.

The Horeb, WI company is listed by Manta as a private company, and the type of business is dog farm. Estimated revenues are 2.5 million to 5.0 million and James A. Burns Dvm is listed as president.

Until recently most lab dogs were put down when their usefulness had ended. However, TheBeagle Freedom Project is a pioneer in rescuing beagles from laboratories. Contact this organization if you are interested in helping or learning more about beagles and other animals used as lab animals.

For those of us who live in the Chicago area and want to read more about local lab dogs, read the article that Kathryn Martin, Aurora Animal Advocacy Examiner, filed March 2011, Iams the manufacturer of dog food and dog testing. that is worth reading.

Also, if the thought of the use of any lab animal is repugnant, you can check manufactures of your favorite products to see who tests on live animals and let that information guide further purchasing decisions.
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