'De-bark' our dogs? Animal-lovers have a bone to pick with Singapore

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 11:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 11:29pm

A suggestion by the public housing authority that owners of noisy dogs consider "de-barking" their pets to avoid inconveniencing neighbours has angered animal- lovers and prompted ridicule on social media.

The authority, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), recommended in a notice posted in a residential block that one option for dogs that would not keep quiet was to submit them to surgery.

De-barking involved removing a section of a dog's vocal cord to reduce the volume of its bark and was recommended as a solution of "last resort" to control noisy pets, according to Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's website.

Animal welfare groups say the practice is cruel and unfair.

"A dog also barks when it is in a stressed or anxious mode, and not hearing the dog does not mean the dog is in a stable state of mind," said Action for Singapore Dogs in a Facebook post.

The HDB notice was in response to "dog barking nuisance in the middle of the night" in a block of public housing apartments.

It had suggested obedience training or using training collars as other options to control dogs, according to a photograph of the notice, dated August 22 and posted online by Action for Singapore Dogs.

"I'm sure everyone has someone they wish they could 'de-bark'," said a Twitter user with the handle @frhn.

"De-barking? Maybe you should try sewing your mouth," said another, named @salihinsuran.

The board did not provide an immediate response to a query regarding the issue. The notice has been removed, the Agency for Animal Welfare, a non-profit organisation, said on Thursday on its Facebook page.