Ban on Declawing Under Consideration in New York

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Cat lovers in New York are hoping to make their state the first to ban the declawing of cats, but first they must overcome opposition from veterinarians who insist the procedure must remain a legal, last resort.

The proposed bill would outlaw cat declawing unless medically necessary and impose a $1,000 fine on anyone performing the surgery.

Declawing typically involves the surgical removal of a cat’s toes back to the first knuckle.  Australia, Britain and several other European countries have already banned cat declawing.  It’s also illegal in Los Angeles and some other cities in California.

The cat, Buzz the Fuzz, at a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday. (PHOTO: ALBANY BUREAU)

Jennifer Conrad is a California veterinarian who founded the Paw Project, a group pushing to pass the ban in New York.  “It’s the amputation of a cat’s toes to protect a couch,”  she told NBC New York.  “None of us went to vet school to protect couches.”
Conrad and several other veterinarians – along with two felines, Rubio the Spokescat and Buzz the Fuzz, a therapy cat – lobbied lawmakers at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

The state’s Veterinary Medical Society opposes the legislation, arguing that declawing must remain a final option for felines who won’t stop scratching furniture or humans.  According to society Executive Director Jennifer Mauer, a declawing ban could inadvertently force more cat owners to hand over their animals to shelters, where many are euthanized.

However, according to the office of Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, (D-Manhattan) in Los Angeles, where a declawing ban is in effect, there was a reported 43 percent reduction in the number of owner-surrendered cats the year after the ban was put in place.

“We’re making a lot of progress,” Rosenthal said.  “There’s a lot of competition for space in legislators’ heads.”  This is the third year that Rosenthal has pushed for the bill.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. (PHOTO: NY DAILY NEWS)


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