When the couple went to court to consider a series of quotes about their dog barking, they were horrified to hear what the prosecutor said.

“Their suggestion was, ‘We’ll drop all charges if your dog’s vocal cords are surgically surfaced,'” said Kathleen Eddings, who owns the dog with her husband Michael. “We were like,‘ No. We do not accept that. ”

A few months after the couple moved to Robinsville, North Carolina, with their 135-pound Pyrenees, Leo, a neighbor began complaining about dog barking, she said. Robinsville is located in West North Carolina, about 70 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee.

In March, a police officer came to the family’s home to hand over a noise report. The couple said they have since been referred twice more for violating the district’s noise ordinance.

While Leo is a big dog who barks from time to time, Kathleen Eddings said he doesn’t bark excessively and the family feels they are singled out by a neighbor.

But the couple says the guilty plea proposal they made to the district attorney’s assistant in court on Tuesday, May 31, upset them even more.

They refused to accept a plea agreement that provided for the removal of their dog’s vocal cords, and another trial date is set for Oct. 10, Kathleen Eddings said.

“I just can’t believe it’s what’s going on, that’s what they’re thinking,” Kathleen Eddings said.

Ashley Welch, the district attorney representing Graham County, where the couple lives, has asked for an assistant district attorney, who has offered to resign on June 2, an office spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman declined to name the prosecutor.

“She does not endorse, support or justify this proposal,” a McClatchy News spokeswoman said. “And she asked for and received (the district attorney’s assistant) resignation.”

Michael Eddings wrote in a Facebook post that he contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after listening to the prosecutor’s comments.

“The barking operation is inhumane,” he wrote. “The lion barks to talk to us when he feels threatened.”

Staining or devocalization is “invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a large amount of laryngeal tissue, ”PETA reports. “This is due to a lot of postoperative pain. Because this procedure is unnecessary and inherently harsh, many veterinarians condemn it and refuse to perform it.

Massachusetts and New Jersey have declared the procedure illegal according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, unless medically determined by a veterinarian. Pennsylvania prohibits this unless it is performed by a veterinarian using anesthesia, while California and Rhode Island have made it illegal to allow devocation of dogs to be a condition of rental property.

Now Kathleen Eddings has said she hopes they won’t have to go back to court.

“We hope that the judiciary will abandon this,” she said.

Madeleine Liszt is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter. She reported for the Cape Cod Times and Providence Journal.