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AVMA policy counters declaw ban

Article

Schaumburg, Ill. - The American Veterinary Medical Association's Executive Board adopted a policy designed to steer local municipalities away from regulating veterinary procedures.

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The American Veterinary Medical Association's Executive Board adopted a policy designed to steer local municipalities away from regulating veterinary procedures.

The policy, brought by the AVMA State Advocacy Committee during the board's November meeting, addresses a West Hollywood, Calif., ordinance that makes it a criminal misdemeanor for veterinarians to perform non-therapeutic cat declaws within city limits. The city's authority to ban a state-regulated veterinary procedure was upheld by an appeals court in June 2007. Four months later, the California Supreme Court refused to hear the California Veterinary Medical Association's (CVMA) petition challenging the case.

That decision will have a "profound impact on the regulation and practice of veterinary medicine, not only in California, but throughout the United States," State Advocacy Committee documents say. "The West Hollywood declawing ordinance could become precedent for thousands of local government units that may wish to consider restricting not only cat declawing, but potentially a variety of other veterinary procedures as well, which will, in turn, undermine state regulation of veterinary medicine, a system that has served the American public and animal patients for over 100 years."

Legislatures have established and maintain boards of veterinary medicine to regulate the profession under state practice acts and enforce professional standards. Allowing a municipality to create its own regulations will chip away at the uniformity of state laws authorized by legislative statutes, the advocacy committee's backgrounder states.

West Hollywood officials have announced their intention to impose restrictions on other controversial veterinary medical procedures, such as ear cropping and tail docking.

While the AVMA policy serves as guidance and has no legal teeth to fight the local ban, CVMA officials say they are not giving up. The group plans to explore writing legislation to upend the ordinance if the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees regulatory agencies, fails to challenge it. The deadline to enter bills for the state Legislature's review is Feb. 22.

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