Features

Published: Friday August 29, 2014 MYT 11:15:00 PM
Updated: Friday August 29, 2014 MYT 6:53:40 PM

Singaporeans go barking mad over bid to silence dogs

When Singapore’s housing authority recommended a dog owner to debark his pet, it didn’t anticipate that Singaporeans can bark even louder.

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 the website of Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Animal welfare groups, however, have responded by saying 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,” the group Action For Singapore Dogs said in a Facebook post.

A screenshot posted by Action for Singapore Dogs' on their Facebook page of the original notice by Singapore's Housing and Development Board recommending dog owners to debark their pets as one of several measures they can take to stop barking nuisance. 

In a statement on Aug 28, the HDB apologises for causing anxiety to dog owners and says it has taken down the notice. The notice was initially posted in response to feedback about “dog barking nuisance in the middle of the night” in a block of public housing apartments.

Other options that HDB suggested to control dogs were obedience training or training collars, a photograph of the Aug 22 notice, posted online by Action for Singapore Dogs, showed.

“I’m sure everyone has someone they wish they could ‘debark’,” says a Twitter user with the handle @frhn.

“Debarking? Maybe you should try sewing your mouth,” says another with the handle @salihinsuran.

Singapore’s limited land area means a majority of the island’s 5.3 million people live in apartments. The city places a lot of importance on being courteous and tidy, but the continuous effort to keep the peace sometimes erupts in verbal fireworks. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Features, Animals, Pets, Singapore, dogs, dog, barking, bark, debark, debarking, nuisance, Housing and Development Board, HDB, Action For Singapore Dogs, social media, protest, complaint, viral

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