The Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Singapore said a notice put up in Ang Mo Kio, advising residents to possibly 'debark' their dogs if they make too much noise, does not accurately reflect its position.
The notice had listed debarking as one option, alongside obedience training sessions and training collars, to manage the problem of excessive barking by dogs, which HDB says, could become a nuisance to neighbours.
In a statement, HDB said the notice has been taken down and apologised for the anxiety caused to dog owners.
"The notice had meant to seek the assistance of dog owners to help manage the issue of excessive dog barking at an Ang Mo Kio block, arising from complaints received. We agree it should have been handled more sensitively," the statement read.
HDB said when residents complain about excessive dog barking, they have always advised and counselled dog owners to manage their pets' barking and behaviour through obedience training.
"Debarking should only be considered by pet owners as a last resort when all other measures, especially training, are ineffective and only if the dog owner considers it an option," HDB stated.
Ms Corrine Fong, Executive Director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said the initial recommendation to debark dogs was "disappointing". She called the debarking procedure "outdated and inhumane", noting that many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds.