Update Oct. 3, 2010: As with the fur labeling bill, California Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerÂ has vetoed another animal welfareÂ measure,Â A.B. 2743, whichÂ would haveÂ prohibited landlords from requiring tenants to devocalize or declaw their animals.
Gov. Schwarzenegger explained, "I cannot sign a measure that contains findings and declarations by the Legislature that are unsupported by science."Â
Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a veterinarian and director of the nonprofit Paw Project, which sponsored the bill, said, "I am discouraged that the governor bought the disingenuous and false arguments of the CVMA.Â I am even more disheartened that my veterinary colleagues would engage in this sort of intellectual dishonesty.Â The CVMA must not be reading the articles published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). How is it not "scientific" when a research study out of Cornell states that 33% of cats that were declawed had behavior problems after declawing? Another peer-reviewed article shows that declawed cats can have an increased tendency to bite.Â Â The Governor was further misled by the notion that declawing cats is necessary to protect human health. The CDC, NIH, US Public Health Service, and Infectious Diseases Society of America all state that declawing should not be used to protect people with compromised immune systems."
Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), the author of AB 2743,Â responded to the veto, "I am very disappointed that the Governor vetoed my bill. Declawing and devocalization … can have severe complications for animals, and emotional and financial consequences for pet owners. Through hard work, we were able to reach a compromise that was acceptable to California apartment building owners and animal lovers. The only opposition to my measure came from those with a financial interest in performing these surgeries, which are increasingly being viewed as outdated and cruel."
According to Paw Project,Â Gov. Schwarzenegger has received at least $30,400 in political contributions fromÂ the CVMA.
For more on this bill and the cruel practices of declawing and devocalization, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.Â
Update Aug. 27, 2010: AmendmentsÂ made to A.B. 2743Â Â in an effort to salvage the bill did the trick. Yesterday, the California Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22-12. The House has concurred inÂ the Senate amendments.Â
The amendments would reduce the fines to $1,000 per animal for a violationÂ instead of up to $2,500 in some instances.Â
Also, it would no longer be a violation forÂ landlords to give preferential treatment to tenants or prospective tenants who have declawed or devocalized animals.Â Â It would also no longer be a violation for landlords to discriminate in the terms of occupancy or services provided against tenants whose animals are not declawed or devocalized.
The amended version eliminatesÂ the standing of a 501(c)(3) organizationÂ toÂ Â Â Â enforce these provisions or to sue for declaratory,Â Â injunctive, or monetary relief.
The amended bill, A.B. 2743, still prohibits landlords fromÂ requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize animals as a condition of occupancy.
It would also still beÂ illegal under the amended version of the bill for landlords to discourage application for or refuse housing for people whose animals are not declawed or devocalized.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is not too early to call on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign A.B. 2743. The House is likely to concur in the amendments and then the bill goes to the governor for his approval. The California Veterinary Medical Association is already lobbying the governor to veto this bill.Â
Call and also faxÂ Gov. SchwarzeneggerÂ and urge himÂ to sign A.B. 2743 and stop landlords from requiring cruel, pointless declawing and devocalization of tenants’ animals.Â Â Â
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building,
Sacramento, CA 95814
E-mails to the Governor have been ineffective in the past, BUT go ahead and send an e-mail message AFTER you call.Â Go to http://gov.ca.gov/interactÂ to e-mail.
For more on the history of A.B. 2743 and the practices of declawing and devocalizing animals, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.Â Â Â
Update May 21: A.B. 2743 has passed the California Assembly with some modifications. The vote was 63-7.Â The bill now goes to the state Senate for approval.
California state Rep. Pedro NavaÂ introducedÂ A.B. 2743.
The original introductory clause to the bill was amended in the Assembly but stated, "Declawing cats and other animals, which is primarily done for the purpose of limiting an animal’s ability to scratch people and furnishings, is cruel and unnecessary….Scientific studies have shown that declawed cats have a tendency to bite more often than cats that have not been declawed, and that declawed cats are also more likely to urinate and defecate outside of their litter boxes than cats that have not been declawed, an outcome that does not support the intended purpose of declawing an animal in order to protect people and furnishings."
The new introduction states: "Declawing and devocalizing are veterinary surgical procedures that have irreversible effects on the animals that undergo these procedures.Â Declawing and devocalizing may have the unintended consequence of creating potential public health and safety concerns; for example, the possible safety risk to law enforcement officers posed by a devocalized attack dog present on property that law enforcement officers have legal cause to enter to investigate illegal activity.
"The permanence of these surgical procedures contrasts with the temporary nature of the occupancy of real property owned by another, which generally lasts only for a fixed term and may be terminated upon notice by one of the parties.Â
"Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to restrict the ability of a person or corporation to impose conditions on occupancy of property that are based on declawing or devocalizing an animal that is allowed on the premises."
Both are correct.Â
This also disproves the contention by some that declawing means animals particularly cats are less likely to end up in shelters. The behavior declawing can cause means declawed cats are as likely to be surrendered to shelters or abandoned as other animals, or maybe more so.Â Â Â Â
Devocalizing or silencingÂ is a painful surgical procedure to remove or cut the vocal chords. This procedure can cause paralysis of the larynx, difficulty in breathing, and adverse reaction to anesthesia. An animal may be forced to undergo multiple surgeries because of regrowth of tissue. Devocalization canÂ requireÂ multiple surgeries if tissue grows back. ItÂ also results inÂ scar tissue and can meanÂ health complications for the animal. Owners who do this to their animals, typically breeders, are more likely to surrender or abandon them if there are too many costly surgeries orÂ health problems.
More typically, surgical devocalizing or silencing is a cruel, inhumane act done for the convenience of the breeder. It does not address the problem causing the barking or noise such as stress, fear, loneliness, frustration, illness, injury, poor socialization, lack of training, and instead is akin to cutting the vocal chords of a noisy child.Â
Unable to bark to signal the problem, for example, the reason for the distress will continue and ignored,Â may grow worse,Â causing the dog to act out in other ways, including by biting, and as a result, end up surrendered to a shelter or abandoned. Â Â Â
Animals that cannot vocalize their intentions, moods or needs present a risk to the public and increased liability.
People may not realize a dog is about to bite or attack, for example, because the dog has not barked, and because he has been debarked or silenced, can only make a wheezy, rasping sound. Â A dog that cannot bark also cannot signal danger to family members, for example, from an intruder or a fire.Â
Declawing or devocalizing could be required for therapeutic purposes defined as "the necessity to address the medical condition of an animal, such as an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition that compromises the animal’s health." "’Therapeutic purpose’ does not include cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, or reasons of perceived need or convenience in keeping or handling the animal."
The California Apartment Association which represents 50,000 landlords in the state supports the legislation. The California Veterinary Medical Association opposes this humane legislation.Â
Several cities in California banned declawing in 2009.Â The MassachusettsÂ just enacted a law to prohibit devocalization of dogs and cats.