Unlicensed Chinese vet removes noisy dogs’ vocal chords on the side of the street

Dogs are known as man's best friend, and the joy and warm fuzzies they bring humans convince many of us to take one in as a pet. The duty as a dog owner involves many responsibilities for the dog's wellbeing and happiness, as well as their basic survival. Which is why it's distressing to hear that in some parts of the world, illegally performed operations that hinder a dog's basic physical functions exist.

A man in the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, Chengdu, has been found to be illegally performing surgical procedures on dogs to remove their vocal chords. The man is known only as Zheng, and was running an unlicensed veterinarian "clinic" on the side of the street at a popular market. He was not qualified to perform operations on the animals and was using dirty equipment.

He was caught following an undercover investigation by reporters at the Chengdu Business Daily. They captured some shocking photos and videos, so be warned that there is graphic content ahead. Reporters had been tipped off about Zheng's street clinic, which he had been operating since September 14. The clinic was on a street off the flower and bird market in Chengdu.

Chengdu flower and bird market Credit: Getty

An undercover reporter asked if he had a licence for his clinic, and he admitted that he was operating illegally: "Why do you need a licence? The inspection is not strict and no one is checking anyway,” said the man. Zheng revealed he had learnt how to do the procedure from "the others" several years ago.

Some awful photos and videos were posted online to show gruesome details of the vet's devocalization procedures. Dogs can be seen being injected with anaesthetic, then having their mouths pulled open with a string that is held by an assistant.

alt Credit: Chengdu Business Daily

Zheng then reaches into the mouths of the animals to cut their vocal chords. After each operation, he just throws the bloodied, hacked-off vocal chords onto the ground. He was found to be using the same surgical instruments on all dogs without having sanitized them between operations. The dogs are then lined up in a semi-conscious state after their hasty operations to let the anaesthesia wear off.

vocal chords on floor Credit: Chengdu Business Daily

Following the undercover investigation, police approached Zheng for questioning, and he has been ordered to stop operations. Authorities have taken up the case to investigate further and decide on the appropriate punishment for the man.

dogs post surgery Credit: Chengdu Business Daily

Shocking to most people unaware of the phenomenon, it is actually commonly practiced in China and other Asian countries. People of all classes organise the operation for their dogs so they don't have to hear their dogs bark, usually after noise complaints from neighbours.

However, devocalizing dogs has been condemned as "unnecessary and inherently cruel" by taking away a dog's ability to communicate. The operation, even when done with a licensed vet, also exposes dogs to health risks like infection, blood loss, problems to breathe and stress.

The man is being investigated, the dogs are recovering, and Chengdu dog owners hoping for a cheap devocalization job will have to look elsewhere. Hopefully they will understand the severity of this case and seek a vet who is not just faking it, or reconsider the operation altogether.