An unlicensed dog breeder in Lancaster County is under investigation and 15 dogs were removed from their home after they were found to have illegally "de-barked" or "de-vocalized" several dogs, the PSPCA announced.
"De-barking," a process by which dogs' vocal cords are destroyed to silence the animal permanently, is illegal unless performed by a licensed veterinarian and under anesthesia, according to the PSPCA.
"These animals were debarked because it was a nuisance," said Nicole Wilson, the PSPCA's Director of Humane Law Enforcement, in a statement. "The manner in which these dogs were devocalized is concerning on many levels, not the least of which is that it is illegal. ... The inhumane manner in which the act was carried out can carry a felony charge. We will continue our investigation and press charges to the fullest extent allowed by the law in an effort to ensure this never happens again."
Criminal charges are still pending in the case and the breeder, who was based in Quarryville, Pa. in Lancaster County, has not yet been identified. The debarking was reportedly done by shoving a tube down the dogs' throats to permanently damage their vocal cords.
The case came to light after a concerned citizen tipped off the PSPCA about the possible "debarking" of an adult female husky dog. The PSPCA's Humane Law Enforcement team went to the breeder's property on May 24. There they found 15 dogs, of whom three adult dogs had been debarked, including the husky. All told there were five adults, including three Doberman Pinschers, a female German Shepherd, who was pregnant, and the debarked female husky. There were also 10 puppies including seven four-week-old Doberman Pinschers, two six-week old Doberman Pinschers, and one three-month-old Siberian Husky puppy.
All the animals were surrendered to the PSPCA for medical care and eventual adoption out to new homes.
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Animal cruelty can be anonymously reported to the PSPCA's Animal Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-SPCA.