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NJ Law Regarding Debarking of Dogs

Assembly Bill 1586, signed into law as P.L. 2002 Chapter 102, classified

surgically debarking a dog, for reasons other than to protect the life or

health of the dog, as an animal cruelty crime of the third degree and

mandates that only a licensed veterinarian may surgically debark a dog. The

bill requires any veterinarian who debarks a dog to file a written statement

with the DOH explaining the veterinary basis for the surgery, as well as the

name and address of the dog owner.


The bill also amended New Jersey Statutes 4:19-15.5 to require that all

municipal dog licensing applications include a statement asking the owner if

the dog has been debarked. The dog licensing official may, upon request of

any law enforcement officer or animal control officer, provide the name and

address of persons who state that they possess a debarked dog. We urge all

dog licensing officials to review their dog licensing applications to ensure

that they are in full compliance with this law.


Veterinarians that have debarked dogs should contact the DOH at 609-826-4872

for instructions on filing a written statement describing the medical

justification for performing the surgery. To date, the DOH has not received

any reports from veterinarians that they have surgically debarked a dog, and

we believe this procedure is rarely, if ever, performed by New Jersey



The full text of P.L. 2002 Chapter 102 is available on the New Jersey

Legislature website,