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

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


Comments () | Archives (9)

If Santa Monica really wanted to stop animal cruelty, they may want to look in the mirror at their breed restriction law against pit bulls.

It must be nice to live the life of a westsider, where the kinds of pressing issues councilmembers take up are whether or not to permit a cat to be declawed.

"An unacceptable act of animal cruelty..."

Nutty. Has McKeon ever asked a cat? Having lived with multiple cats that were declawed and a couple that weren't (no cats now or recently however), I've seen no behavioral change instigated by declawing and no sign of stress of distress. The declawed cats even happily adapted to become good mousers. Ironically, it was the cats with claws that were lost to coyotes, claws proving inadequate defense.

On the other hand, declawed cats weren't under frequent reprimand. There was no inappropriate climbing. No domestic destruction. Like kids free for the summer, declawed cats lived in unstructured domestic bliss, carefree and happy.

Local governments are foolish and intrusive to set restrictions here. Veterinarians don't view the practice as cruel. This is pure sloppy dumb emotion at work, distracting Santa Monica and LA from actually fulfilling their responsibilities to constituents.

BRAVO SANTA MONICA! I think a declaw BAN is completely necessary since the majority of vets cannot be trusted to follow the AVMA guidelines & inform their clients of natural cat behavior & the true nature of declaw surgery. Education isn't working; it isn't happening! In my city vets blatantly disregard their oath "to do no harm" & pander declawing - encourage it, cross-sell it in spay/neuter packages, advertise it in coupon magazines, & essentially have brainwashed their human clients into believing amputating knucklebones is routine cat care. There's way too many easy solutions for claw management that mutilation ever has to be an option.
As the founder of a cat rescue network, I have witnessed firsthand the physical, emotional, & behavioral problems declawing causes & the abandonment & relinquishment that follows. In fact I live with a rescued declawed cat with painful arthritis & deformed paws pads who has caused severe urine damage to my home because he can't dig litter. Perhaps if the vet community started tracking their declawed patients they too would see the truth, but we all know it's not in the best interest of their back pockets to do so. Their casual attitude toward declawing has caused humans to treat their cats as mere possessions that can be carved up & easily disposed of, it's clear they are not of service to their animal client so the lawmakers need to step in to protect cats from this needless horror. This cruelty is already illegal or unethical in the progressive countries, Santa Monica, please protect the cats in your city & BAN this atrocity so my city can follow in your humane footsteps!

Cessie, amazed and Phil, how would you like to have the first joints of all of your fingers amputated? De-clawing is a selfish act by humans who care more about their furniture than the well-being of their pets. Don't own a pet if you feel the need to mutilate it in order to have it live in your house.

".... it's clear they are not of service to their animal client so the lawmakers need to step in to protect cats from this needless horror..."

The cat may be the patient but the OWNER is the client. Declawing is an accepted procedure that can be done safely sans lasting damage. Pick a good veterinary surgeon.

"...De-clawing is a selfish act by humans who care more about their furniture than the well-being of their pets. Don't own a pet if you feel the need to mutilate it in order to have it live in your house...."

Animals are not people and no amount of unbridled emotion will win them equal rights. There are principles and ethics for humane treatment of animals but competently surgical cat declawing is not remotely in violation of them. Animals are not people.

"...Don't own a pet if you feel the need to mutilate it in order to have it live in your house..."

The issue arises for many people when someone else feels the need to bring cats into another's domain and declawing is the compromise. That's life and the human element prevails. This regulation is an inappropriate waste of government attention, time and resources.

"De-clawing is a selfish act by humans who care more about their furniture than the well-being of their pets. Don't own a pet if you feel the need to mutilate it in order to have it live in your house."

That is perfectly stated.

It is appalling that Madeline Bernstein, president of the SPCA of Los Angeles is remaining neutral on city bans of declawing restrictions (except when medically necessary). What exactly is the purpose of the Society for the "PREVENTION OF CRUELTY" to Animals if not to prevent cruelty to animals and speak out loudly to do so. The SPCA should come out strongly in favor of these bans and push to repeal the law sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Assn., and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Is it always about the money? Shame on them.
Keep your animals away from Veterinarians who perform these procedures.

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons. ~C.S. Lewis

Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him? - Pierre Troubetzkoy

Animals can communicate quite well. And they do. And generally speaking, they are ignored. - Alice Walker

LOL.. LA does it agsin.. it is OK to "mutilate' your pet by ripping out her sexual organs .. or cutting off his testicles..in fact IT IS THE LAW..stupid is as stpid does.. and that is LA and its 'council" in a nutshell.. leave the medical decisions about pets to the OWNERS and the veterinarians.. thank Dog we are getting a law that will prevent all of this nonsense.. Bravo Arnie...


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