NEW JERSEY – State Assembly lawmakers have voted affirmatively to send Gov. Chris Christie a bill which would make New Jersey the first state in the country to ban veterinarians from declawing cats.
The legislation (A3899) would criminalize the practice of declawing cats. Under the proposal, onychetomy — which is the medical term for declawing — would be added to the list of criminal animal cruelty offenses.
There would be some exceptions for medical purposes. But veterinarians caught declawing a cat and people decide to seek them out would face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. Violators would also face a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000, according to the bill.
“Declawing is a barbaric practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity,” Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), the bill’s sponsor, stated in a statement.
The legislation cleared an Assembly panel back in November with the support of animal welfare organizations, which say the practice is a very painful procedure for cats.
However, opponents did cite advances in the process they claimed made it less invasive.
“Only the claw bed is removed,” stated Middletown veterinarian Michael Yurkus, a member of the New Jersey Veterinary Association, back at the November hearing. “We do not cut bone, and the pain medicine that is available today was not available” decades ago, he said.
The procedure is typically done to prevent pet cats from shredding furniture or other household property, or because a cat is not learning how to play properly.
In conclusion, the governor will now have the ultimate decision on whether to approve the legislation when it’s sent to his desk.