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Singaporeans go barking mad over bid to silence dogs

Debarking involves removing a section of a dog's vocal cord to reduce the volume of its bark.

FILE: A suggestion by Singapore's public housing authority that owners of noisy dogs consider “debarking” their pets has come under fire. Picture: Mia Spies/EWN.

SINGAPORE - 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 22 August-dated notice posted online by Action for Singapore Dogs.

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 organization, said on Thursday on its Facebook page.