For almost 20 years, Debra and Dale Krein have lived in a rural area near Grants Pass next to Karen Szwec and John Updegraff. Both married couples have had a long-standing dispute regarding the dogs owned by Szwec and Updegraff.
Last Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Kreins complaint against their neighbors, ordering Szwec and Updegraff to quiet their incessantly barking dogs by having their voices surgically silenced by a veterinarian.
The debarking operation is very controversial, raising strong opinions from dog lovers as well as those plagued by problems similar to the Kreins.
Groups such as the Oregon Humane Society and American Humane have spoken out against them. Six states have outlawed the procedure under certain circumstances, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.”
The surgery involves cutting the animal’s vocal cords to reduce its noise to a raspy bark or muffled squeak. Those in favor of the procedure argue it can save a problematic animal from having to be put down.
Opponents argue that the surgery robs the animal of a means to express itself and that it’s cruel and unnecessary.
In Oregon, it’s been very rare for a court to order such a drastic solution because most cases are resolved between the parties before it gets too far into the legal system.
We are just shocked,” said David Lytle, a spokesman for the Oregon Humane Society. Lytle said his organization pushed for a bill to outlaw debarking surgeries in Oregon, but it failed a few years ago.”
The Kreins took legal action in 2012 after putting up with the barking of six or more Tibetan and Pyrenean Mastiffs kept on the property next door. They claim the barking was so bad it roused them from sleep, kept relatives from visiting, made their children dread coming home from school, and pressured them into playing the television louder than normal.
In the dogs’ defense, Szwec claims they are needed to protect the livestock on their property from predators. She noted they raise sheep, goats and chickens to supplement their income.
In April 2015, the Jackson County Circuit Court ordered Szwec and Updegraff to pay the Kreins $238,000 to compensate them for the disruption to their lives.
Judge Timothy Gerking agreed and ordered that the Mastiffs be debarked, given that the owners hadn't stopped the barking by other means, including using citronella-spray and shock collars or erecting a visual barrier between the dogs and the neighbors’ property.”
Last week, the Appeals Court, in a three-judge panel, upheld the $230,000 award and the debarking order.
Szwec is undecided about a further appeal at this time.
Source: Oregon Live