California Cities Scramble To Pass Cat Declawing Bans

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 4, 2009
A handful of cities and towns across California have recently approved laws that ban veterinarians from declawing cats.

They’re moving quickly to avoid a new state law that soon will make it illegal for cities to stop the practice.

As Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports, a “cat fight” of sorts is brewing over the issue...

Culver City is the latest California community to approve a cat declawing ban. 

The law makes it a misdemeanor for veterinarians within city limits to surgically remove the claws from a cat’s paws. 

Culver City Mayor Andrew Weissman says the law makes sense...
Weissman: "The council felt that the cat declawing procedure was animal cruelty...”

Mayor Weissman says he owns two cats and he acknowledges that sometimes they behave badly...
Weissman:  “Scratching furniture, drapes...and even people from time to time...but I wouldn’t have them declawed...”
Culver City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Berkeley all approved cat declawing bans within the past month. 

That’s so they can get around a new state law taking effect on January first that will prohibit cities from adopting the bans.
Jennifer Conrad “Declawing really is a radical surgery. It’s amputating the last bone in a cat’s toe...”
Jennifer Conrad is with “The Paw Project.”  

It’s a Santa Monica-based group that has been pushing for cat declawing bans for years. 

She says a lot of veterinarians oppose the bans because declawing cats is profit driven...
Conrad:   “A veterinarian who opposed San Francisco banning declawing recently testified that he makes about 900-dollars an hour from doing the procedure...”
But, many veterinarians say that’s an unfair characterization. 

Mark Nunez is president of the California Veterinary Medical Association. 

He says the association opposes cat declawing bans... 
Nunez:   “I can tell you that a lot of veterinarians think as I do...that it is a procedure that they don’t really promote. And if it is done its only extremely, extremely rarely...”    
In 2003, the California Veterinary Medical Association took the city of West Hollywood to court to challenge its declawing ban, but lost the case.  

Nunez says the state law is needed to keep the practice legal...
Nunez:   “Medical decisions are being made by city council members who certainly do not have medical training...”
Opponents of cat declawing say there are alternatives, like giving a cat a scratching post, trimming its nails or making the animal wear mittens. 

The Burbank City Council is scheduled to vote on on a declawing ban Tuesday.