ALBANY, NEW YORK – Lawmakers and advocates all gathered today, Tuesday, to push for a bill that would make it illegal to declaw cats in New York, but a group representing the state’s veterinarians says the procedure should be allowed to remain legal.
Advocates ranging from state Humane Society members all the way to individual veterinarians met in the state Capitol to push for a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, which would ban the practice of declawing cats except when medically necessary.
New York would become the very first state to outlaw declawing procedures.
At a news conference today, Rosenthal said declawing in most cases is performed “as a convenience to the owner.” But the procedure is serious, she added, with portions of the animal’s bones,tendons and ligaments amputated, as opposed to just cutting off the nail as most people believe,
“For humans not to respect the integrity of the animal and the animal’s body is criminal,” she said. “However, it’s still allowed, it’s an option, and that’s why we aim to make it illegal.”
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society, however, does oppose the bill.
Declawing procedures, the society wrote in a memo to lawmakers earlier this month, are only recommended when other efforts to control a cat’s destructive scratching or clawing have failed. The procedure often saves cats from euthanasia, the group wrote.
“(Declawing) is one method to allow a beloved feline companion to continue to live in a household rather than relinquishing the family pet to a shelter,” the Veterinary Medical Society’s lobbyist wrote. “Declawing should remain a viable alternative to euthanasia if all other options have failed.”
Not all veterinarians agree with this position, however.
Declawing cats may result in complications with both long-term and short-term effects, said Eileen Jefferson, a veterinarian and member of Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
“This always includes the pain of having 10 to 18 separate amputations performed in one day and, in addition to that, it can include other effects such as limping, hemorrhage, chronic pain and infection,” she stated.
In New York, 130 veterinarians have expressed their complete support for Rosenthal’s legislation, according to the advocates.
“The act of declawing has no place in a humane society, and shelters should know, and vets do know,” stated Brian Shapiro, state director of the Humane Society of the United States.
Rosenthal has been completely unsuccessful in trying to pass the legislation for the past two years, but she said she is continuing her push this legislative session with the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, Oneida County.
Six cities in California have already outlawed the declawing of cats, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Monica, as well as other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.