Several CA Cities Ban Declawing


Update Dec. 12: Culver City and Burbank are now the 7th and 8th cities in North America to ban declawing of cats except for therapeutic purposes.

For more on this new law passed in these and other California cities in the past few months, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.  

Update Dec. 2, 2009: Several California cities have passed bans on declawing cats unless it is medically necessary. Los Angeles, San Francisco,  Santa Monica, Berkeley and Beverly Hills have all passed such bans on declawing just in the last few months.

In October, 2009 Malibu City reaffirmed its 2003 resolution that expressed the city’s opposition to declawing but decided against a ban.

Culver City is considering a ban. Burbank’s city council is set to vote on a declawing ban on December 8.  Humboldt, Marin and Sonoma Counties are considering bans as well.

These bans target not only the person performing the procedure but anyone involved including the owner or anyone else who procured the surgery. Violations are a misdemeanor. 

The effort in so many cities at once was prompted by a new California law, S.B. 762, to take effect January 1, that prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances to stop veterinarians from "engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope of practice".   The California Veterinary Medical Association sponsored this law in an effort to prevent declawing bans like this. The new law may not apply to charter cities, however.

Until this fall, 2009, West Hollywood, California was the only city to ban declawing. An appeals court has upheld the West Hollywood ordinance. Cal. Veterinary Medical Asso. v. City of West Hollywood, 152 Cal. App. 4th 536 (2007)  

Declawing is not cutting a cat’s nails. It is major surgery, the amputation of a joint of each toe, bones and all.

This can mean complications including infections, nerve damage, bone chips, and as time passes, weakening of leg, back and shoulder muscles and impaired balance. The nails might regrow abnormally inside the paw, causing pain.

Cats need their claws. They are defenseless without them. Declawing can cause them to suffer neurosis and bladder problems and skin conditions. This means it may be more likely the cat will end up abandoned or in a shelter. Besides, declawing is simply cruel. Go here for more information. 

A study published in the J Am Vet Med Assoc. concluded declawing nearly doubles the risk a cat will end up in a public shelter. That is because of the behavior and bladder or other health issues caused by declawing.

As the Los Angeles City Council put it:

"onychectomy (declawing) and flexor tendonectomy can be a painful operation, preventing an animal from being able to extend its claws and leaving it unable to scratch, affecting its balance and climbing and rendering it at a great disadvantage in defending itself; and … there is evidence that links onychectomy (declawing) and flexor tendonectomy to a high risk of painful adverse and long lasting effects on animals and that complications can include damage to nerves, lameness and chronic pain; and … declawing unnecessarily increases public health and safety risks as declawed animals become more prone to biting as a form of defense, leading to increased infection; and … there are many alternatives that involve no physical harm to the animal."