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Santa Monica, L.A. ask for animal declawing restrictions

September 24, 2009 |  1:15 pm

The Santa Monica City Council voted this week to draft an ordinance to restrict animal declawing in the city. Los Angeles is considering a similar proposal, as is San Francisco

The motion, introduced by council members Kevin McKeown and Gleam Davis, directs the city to have the ordinance in place by Dec. 31 because of a deadline imposed by a pending state law.

In Los Angeles, City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl this month presented a motion to ban onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy on animals except to address the medical condition of the animal.

"We're going to go forward with making a major effort to see that this declawing business doesn't happen in the city of Los Angeles," Rosendahl said.

McKeown called cat declawing "an unacceptable act of animal cruelty."

The issue has gained urgency because of a law signed July 2 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that gives the state authority over medical scope-of-practice issues and prevents cities and counties from passing ordinances banning medical procedures starting Jan. 1.

Dr. Mark Nunez, president of the California Veterinary Medical Assn., which sponsored the state law, said his group is opposed to bans at the local level. "We believe that the decision to perform a medical or surgical procedure should be made by the owner of the cat in consultation with their veterinarian." The association represents more than 6,000 veterinary professionals in the state.

West Hollywood banned declawing except for medical purposes in 2003. The decision was overturned after a challenge by the veterinary association but was reinstated by a state appeals court in 2007. The state Supreme Court declined to hear the case.  Under the new state law, West Hollywood's ban will stand, as would any other municipalities' bans that take effect before Jan. 1.

Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Los Angeles, said her group is not in favor of animal declawing but is neutral on the issue of city bans.

-- Anne Colby


 

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