Singaporeans go barking mad over bid to silence dogs

Written by Reuters | Singapore | Updated: Aug 29 2014, 19:48pm hrs
A suggestion by Singapore's public housing authority that owners of noisy dogs consider "debarking" their pets to avoid inconveniencing neighbours, has raised animal lovers' hackles in the city-state and prompted much 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 will not keep quiet is to "debark" them.

Debarking involves removing a section of a dog's vocal cord to reduce the volume of its bark and is 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 feedback about "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 Aug. 22-dated notice posted online by Action for Singapore Dogs.

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

"Debarking Maybe you should try sewing your mouth," said another with the handle @salihinsuran.

Singapore's limited land area means a majority of residents live in apartments. A lot of importance in the city is placed on being courteous and tidy.

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