In addition to the medical and other aspects of the devocalization debate, there is a profoundly important ethical, or moral, aspect.

Authorized by the Secretary of the Navy in 1998, the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics (CSPME) undertook an ambitious mission: to promote and enhance the ethical development of current and future military leaders. In February 2006, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy directed the expansion of the Center, and the Center was renamed the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. Admiral Stockdale was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his conduct as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

In a case from the 2011 Ethics Bowl finals in Cincinnati Ohio, the United States Naval Academy Ethics Team argued that it is morally permissible to devocalize a companion animal, but only as a last resort when it would otherwise be abandoned or euthanized. (Part I) (Part II)

On the other hand, in 2009 the Banfield group of nationwide veterinary clinics consisting of some 750 hospitals and 2,ooo veterinarians established the company-wide policy of not devocalizing dogs (nor tail docking and ear cropping). “After thoughtful consideration and reviewing medical research, we have determined it is in the best interest of the pets we treat, as well as the overall practice, to discontinue performing these unnecessary cosmetic procedures,” said Karen Faunt, vice president for medical quality advancement. “It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether.”