2017 Maryland Code
Criminal Law
Title 10 - Crimes Against Public Health, Conduct, and Sensibilities
Subtitle 6 - Crimes Relating to Animals
§ 10-625. Unauthorized surgical devocalization of cat or dog.

  • (a) "Devocalize" defined. --
    • (1) "Devocalize" means to perform a surgical procedure involving cutting, notching, punching, abrading, lasering, suturing, or otherwise physically altering the vocal apparatus of a dog or cat with the intent of altering, reducing, or eliminating vocal sounds produced by the animal.
    • (2) "Devocalize" includes debarking, devoicing, silencing, ventriculocordectomy, vocal cordectomy, bark reduction, and bark softening.
  • (b) In general. -- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a person may not surgically devocalize a dog or cat.
  • (c) When permitted. -- A licensed veterinarian may surgically devocalize a dog or cat only if:
    • (1) anesthesia is administered to the animal during the procedure; and
    • (2) the veterinarian provides the owner or keeper of the animal a written certification that:
      • (i) states that the procedure on the animal was medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness, a disease, or an injury, or to correct a congenital abnormality that is causing or will cause the animal medical harm or pain; and
      • (ii) contains:
        • 1. the date and description of the veterinarian's examination and evaluation;
        • 2. supporting diagnoses and findings;
        • 3. the name and current address and telephone number of the animal's owner or keeper; and
        • 4. the name and current address and telephone number, State license number, and signature of the veterinarian.
  • (d) Violations; penalty. -- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to:
    • (1) for a first offense, imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both; and
    • (2) for a second or subsequent offense, imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $ 2,000 or both.
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