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 veterinarians.

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