Oregon court rules couple must surgically 'debark' dogs

Neighbors said the barking starts at 5 a.m.

Tim Becker and KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- An Oregon court has ruled a couple must have their dogs surgically "debarked" after causing their neighbors several years of disruption.

The Oregon Court of Appeals determined Wednesday that the devocalization operations were necessary since the dogs' owners had not done enough to quiet their pets.

Neighbors Debra and Dale Krein said they decided to file the lawsuit as a last resort after enduring more than a decade of nuisance barking by six or more dogs.

According the Kreins, the barking begins as early as 5 a.m. and has caused the family and their guests discomfort.

The Krein's attorney, Michael Franell told KTVL in Medford that it wasn't his client's idea to debark the dogs.

"My clients did not ask to have the dogs debarked.They asked to have to dogs removed from the property," Franell said. "The defendants are the ones who came in and volunteered to have to dogs debarked as an alternative to having them removed from the property."

Dog owner Karen Szewc said the dogs, which are Tibetan and Pyrenean Mastifs, bark when they sense predators and are necessary to keep the livestock on her property protected.

The Oregon Humane Society said a surgical solution to a behavioral problem is not the right approach.

"Really? This is where we are?" OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon said. "We have to surgically debark a dog when we can do so many other things?"

Court documents show how the neighbors have been dealing with barking since 2002, but didn't file suit until ten years later.

"I'm really perplexed why a judge would make a dog pay for the owner's responsibility in this case," Harmon said.

A jury awarded the Krien's $239,000 for dealing with the public nuisance but when they argued the money didn't stop the problem, a judge ordered the debarking.

The dog owners appealed, but on August 30, a three person panel upheld the judge's ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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