An assistant district attorney has left his job after he suggested that a dog owner get his pet’s vocal cords surgically altered to get noise complaint charges dropped.
The unnamed lawyer worked for Graham County in North Carolina when he suggested that Michael Eddings have the ability to bark surgically removed from his seven-year-old Great Pyrenees Leo.
Mr Eddings rejected the idea, blasting the suggestion as “crazy” and “inhumane”, WLOS reported.
On Friday, Graham County District Attorney Ashley Welch said that “I have confirmed that an assistant district attorney in my district suggested, as a possible solution to violations of a town’s noise ordinance, that a dog’s vocal cords be surgically altered. Whether offered in jest or seriousness, the suggestion was inappropriate. I am unable to offer additional comment as this is now a personnel matter”.
On Tuesday, Ms Welch said the lawyer no longer works for the county.
“I do not condone, support or approve of his suggestion,” she told WLOS.
It’s not clear if the lawyer was fired or if left the position of his own accord.
Leo’s barking was found to have violated a city noise ordinance on several occasions.
Mr Eddings told the local TV station that he was stunned by the plea deal offered by the assistant district attorney.
“He said that, ‘If you have the vocal cords removed surgically, they would drop all charges.’ It’s crazy! It is inhumane,” the dog owner said. “We’re willing to negotiate ... but I’m not going to put on a barking collar and I’m not going to have surgery.”
The process of removing dogs’ vocal cords is a controversial measure that’s illegal in some countries, including the UK. In the US, the legality of the measure depends on state-level laws. Animal welfare experts condemn the practice.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesperson Catie Cryar told Newsweek that the measure is “cruel and unnecessary”.
The surgery puts dogs at risk of infection and scarring that can damage the airways. The dogs may also suffer emotional issues after their way of communicating is removed.
Mr Eddings told WLOS that “Leo’s bark does travel, but it’s just because he’s 120 pounds. I have a neighbour that has three or four dogs that bark. And my neighbour across the street has dogs that bark. So, I think singling us out for one dog is a little ridiculous”.
Graham County Sheriff Jerry Crisp has said that Mr Eddings has been issued multiple citations for noise violations following complaints from neighbours.
Mr Eddings said that so far, he has received more than $750 in citations and lawyer costs. His next court appearance has been scheduled for October.
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