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, recommended in a notice posted in a residential block that one option for dogs that would not keep quiet was 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, reads a post on 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,” Action for Singapore Dogs said on Facebook.

The authority’s notice was in response to feedback about “dog barking nuisance in the middle of the night” in a block of public housing flats.

“I’m sure everyone has someone they wish they could ‘debark’,” Twitter user @frhn said.

“Debarking? Maybe you should try sewing your mouth,” @salihinsuran said.

The board did not respond to a Reuters query. The notice had been removed, the Agency for Animal Welfare, a non-profit organisation, said on its Facebook page yesterday. – Reuters