Okla. Vet in Hot Water for De-Barking Neighbor's Dog

A woman has filed a complaint against her neighbor, a veterinarian who, without permission, neutered her 10-week-old puppy and surgically quieted his bark.

James Risch, the veterinarian, said he performed the procedures after he found the puppy barking on his porch and thought it was a stray.

"He maimed my puppy," Nancy Miller wrote in the complaint to the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. "This man is a menace to animals and should not be allowed to continue to practice."

She claims he took the dog from her fenced yard. He denies this.

He said he gave the puppy vaccinations, bathed it, treated it for ear mites, neutered it and performed a "simple procedure that reduces the volume of the bark but does not inhibit the dog's ability to bark." He said the procedure, which is performed on a dog's vocal cords, can make a stray more adoptable.

Risch wrote a letter of apology to the Millers, saying he did not talk to his wife or check around before he "impulsively took the stray pup from our front porch to the clinic.

"I admit my wrongdoing. I would like you to know that I have sought counseling to understand and correct my impulsive behavior."

Risch also wrote that he did not dislike the Millers' other dog, Phil, "but rather it is the barking at nothing that can be like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I have made progress recently and have been more able to tune out the barking."

Risch wrote that he had called another neighbor at 3 a.m. to complain of his barking dog.

Dr. Charles Helwig, executive director of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, said he is glad the puppy's owners contacted the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

"It sounds like there definitely needs to be an investigation here," Helwig said.

The veterinary board declined to comment on the complaint.