Malibu California Rejects Pending Declaw BanPublished October 14, 2009
To say that those of us who passionately abhor the practice of declawing cats are disappointed by the decision that the City of Malibu, California made yesterday, Monday October 12, with their vote against a motion for a citywide ban on declawing cats, is a huge understatement. Numerous people sent emails, letters and faxes imploring the City Council to support a ban, following in the footsteps of the West Hollywood, California's pioneer and courageous ban which is in place, as it is in over 37 countries around the world as it is considered cruelty to animals. Since cats need their claws to be able to balance, stretch and mark their territories, and is of course their first line of defense, depriving them of their claws can have serious and painful implications, with many declawed cats refusing to use litter boxes, resort to biting, and often end up surrendered to shelters where they are considered unadoptable. The USDA has already banned the practice of declawing big cats in the United States. Dr. Mark Nunez, President of the California Veterinary Medical Association, (CVMA) and Dr. Timothy Metzger, President of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, (SCVMA) and other CVMA members travelled to Malibu to testify at the meeting held in the evening. Dr. Dana DePerno, and Dr. Lisa Newell from Malibu testified against the pending declaw ordinance by saying that they only perform the procedure as a last resort. Dr Nunez said, "We do not want to see cats declawed routinely. We do believe that it is an option of last resort. We believe that this should be a decision between a cat owner and their veterinarian. The decision should be made by the professionals; it should not be made in the City Council chambers." Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem, Sharon Barovsky disputed information provided by the people who were proposing the ban. She claimed that the research she had undertaken in regard to the declaw bans that already exist in many European countries proved to be not true. What is most disturbing about her statement is in fact, that in the United Kingdom declawing was outlawed by the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 which clearly prohibits ""interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of the animal, otherwise than for the purposes of its medical treatment". Declawing was extremely uncommon even before the 2006 Act and many people had never seen a cat that had been declawed. Most British veterinarians consider the practice inhumane and refuse to perform the surgery unless there is a compelling medical reason. In the Guide to Professional Conduct of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, regarding declawing it is stated that it is " "only acceptable where, in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon, injury to the animal is likely to occur during normal activity. It is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner ... the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable." Additionally, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland are other European countries where declawing cats for non-medical reasons is always illegal under their laws against cruelty to animals. While the CVMA's stand on declawing states that any medical decision should be made between the veterinarian and client, and that veterinarians must provide education and counsel to clients on all medical procedures that the "unintended consequences of cat declaw bans will be cat relinquishment and euthanasia" In fact many declawed cats are routinely surrendered to shelters due to unacceptable behavior, and healthy young cats are frequently euthanized. Visit http://www.thecattherapist.com/dont_declaw.htm for more information. SB 762, the bill which prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances that ban medical procedures that are already legal statewide, was sponsored by the CVMA in 2009. However there are a few remaining California cities still considering passing an ordinance to ban the practice of declawing cats and must do so before the 1/01/2010 deadline. These cities are Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Monica With such a wide variety of alternatives to declawing available today, such as rough textured scratching posts and cat trees and plastic covers for claws, I find it difficult to understand Malibu's very disappointing decision. What is your opinion on the results of the Malibu failure to pass the declaw ordinance? Leave a comment and share.