Declawing and Devocalization Surgery: Is it Ethical?Published December 14, 2011
Flickr User Sean MacEntee
The family dog is constantly barking loudly which is disturbing neighbors. The household cat flies to a favorite chair like a heat-seeking missile, scratching it to tatters, or is keeping folks up at night with its vociferous meowing. So how do many folks deal with these issues in order to remedy these “annoying” behavioral problems, making their lives more convenient? Often they resort to devocalizing their dog or cat or having the cat declawed.
Devocalization surgery entails the removal of most of the animal's vocal cords. Veterinarians may choose to perform this highly controversial surgery in an attempt to discontinue pets’ annoying behavior even though they are natural ones to both species of animal companions.
But there is some good news for both cats and dogs living in New York and Massachusetts, and those fortunate kitties residing in Israel. Currently legislation is pending in New York State which would ban devocalization of both dogs and cats unless surgery is warranted to deal with a serious medical condition. In 2010, Governor Patrick Deval of Massachusetts, a forward and humane thinking individual, signed a bill into law banning devocalization surgery in his state.
Israel's legislature unanimously passed a bill prohibiting feline declawing (unless medically necessary).
Since declawing felines in Israel is now considered a serious crime, this bill set very strict penalties for anyone convicted, which includes up to one year in jail and a $20,000 fine.
With the exception of several cities in California, the practice of feline declawing remains legal in the United States. According to Discover Magazine, approximately 25% of cats in the United States are declawed, even though it is not medically necessary. Conversely, feline declawing has already been banned in many countries throughout the world including England, Italy, France, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, Brazil, Australia, and many others.
While not medically necessary, declawing surgery can have long lasting negative effects. One study found that at least 20% of cats who underwent declaw surgery developed serious medical complications, including infection and inability to ambulate correctly.
Since many people still think declawing surgery just a "super manicure”, this writer feels strongly that if all veterinarians fully educate clients precisely on what the surgery entailed, along with the risks that declawing surgery and devocalizations carry, fewer people would opt to have their pets undergo these procedures. Cat lovers who abhor declawing and devocalization are hopeful that the United States and Canada will one day soon join the other countries that already have taken action to prohibit them.
What are your thoughts about declawing and devocalization of dogs and cats? Share with a comment.