Do you support declaw bans? Read two views


Two team members sound off about the recent California declaw bans.

No. I never thought I'd be a law-breaker, but today I came close. If my hospital was 30 miles north of our location, the feline declaw surgery done within our walls would've been illegal. Since I let it take place, I could've faced a misdemeanor and jail time. Recently, eight California cities voted to make declawing a crime. Thankfully, declawing is still legal in Huntington Beach.

I don't necessarily support declawing, but rather I support veterinary medical professionals determining which procedures are ethical and humane. Putting medical decisions in bureaucratic hands is a slippery slope. Who's to say a cystocentesis won't be the next procedure outlawed?

Leslie Boudreau, RVT

Although my current cats all have their claws, I've had cats declawed. A doctor's excellent surgical techniques coupled with a modern pain protocol—both of which should be requirements of any procedure—allowed my declawed kitties to enjoy quick, pain-free recoveries with no adverse effects. These cats lived long, happy lives.

Why did I declaw? Even with frequent nail trims and multiple scratching posts, my cats clawed up my roommate's things. My landlord warned that I faced eviction if the cats damaged the rented living space. Neither willing to turn my cats into a meal for the hungry coyotes lurking in my neighborhood nor to give them to a shelter, I had them declawed.

These are two of the many valid reasons why owners declaw. Arbitrary bans only confuse these clients. And they increase the risk of cats being relinquished. Shelters are already inundated with cats. How can euthanasia be more acceptable than living without claws that a cat doesn't even know are missing? Instead of banning declawing, veterinarians and pet owners who morally object to the surgery can choose not to perform it. Prohibiting certain procedures could land veterinarians and their staff in jail for performing services the profession has deemed acceptable. If these bans continue, look for my mug shot on America's Most Wanted.

Leslie Boudreau, RVT, Animal Hospital of Huntington Beach, practice manager Huntington Beach, Calif.

Yes. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that declawing should only be considered after all humane alternatives have been exhausted, yet, according to the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA), 76 percent of cats are declawed before they're 8 months old. I don't see how all humane alternatives including training, blunt nail caps, scratching posts, routine nail trims, and double-sided tape can ever be exhausted—and certainly not in a few months. The SCVMA also says that 95 percent of veterinarians are declawing cats to prevent damage to household furnishings. No one would consider detoothing an 8-month-old puppy for chewing on slippers.

Jennifer Conrad, DVM

Sadly, some doctors actively promote declawing. They offer coupons and pretend laser declawing is painless, despite studies proving otherwise. When these doctors don't try humane alternatives, they go against the AVMA guidelines. Some even add declawing to a spay or neuter causing trusting clients to believe it's the right thing to do. The bans protect those who never want to hurt a cat by declawing it and never want to be blackmailed by a client into doing it.

Declawing doesn't benefit the cat. Every humane group I asked said they don't allow their cats to be adopted into homes where they might be declawed. Why? The consensus was that the workers were worried they'd just get the cat, now declawed, right back. Declawed cats lose their homes at a disproportionately high rate because they bite more and their painful paws keep them from digging in the litter box. Rescuers also note that if someone wants a declawed cat, there are plenty already in shelters.

Finally, infectious diseases physicians, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control don't recommend declawing the cats of immuno-compromised humans. Concerned veterinarians and their staff can cite these organizations when explaining why their clinic doesn't offer declawing. And they can rest assured that they shouldn't recommend declawing these—or any—cats.

Jennifer Conrad, DVM, The Paw Project, director, Santa Monica, Calif.

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