Veterinarians Lobby Legislators to Overturn Ban on Cat Declawing

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Five years after the city council of West Hollywood enacted their landmark prohibition of the practice of declawing, the California State legislature, prompted by a veterinary special interest lobby group, is considering a bill which would overturn West Hollywood's humane ordinance. The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is a trade and lobbying organization that lost its battles fair and square in the California courts. (California Veterinary Medical Association v. City of West Hollywood, 152 Cal. App. 3d 536 (2007). Assembly member Mike Eng introduced AB 2427. Groups against animal cruelty feel this is a "backdoor" attempt by the California Veterinary Medical Association to regain the right to amputate cat toes (declawing). The Secretary State web site shows the California Veterinary Medical Association has donated over $169,000 to the legislators voting on this bill.

Many cat owners don't know that declawing is an amputation of a cat's toes.

The California Veterinary Medical Association is a group of veterinarians primarily concerned with lobbying to maximizing profits for their own practices. One would hope that the The California Veterinary Medical Association would be more interested in promoting the well-being of animals and less consumed with fighting for the right to maim defenseless cats.

Five years after the city council of West Hollywood enacted their landmark prohibition of the practice of declawing, the California State legislature, prompted by a veterinary special interest lobby group, is considering a bill which would overturn West Hollywood's humane ordinance. Paw Project founder and director Jennifer Conrad, DVM, opposes the bill.

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is a trade and lobbying organization that lost its battles fair and square in the California courts. (California Veterinary Medical Association v. City of West Hollywood, 152 Cal. App. 3d 536 (2007).

Assembly member Mike Eng introduced AB 2427. Groups against animal cruelty feel this is a "backdoor" attempt by the California Veterinary Medical Association to regain the right to amputate cat toes (declawing).

The Secretary State web site shows the California Veterinary Medical Association has donated over $169,000 to the legislators voting on this bill.
(SOURCE: http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1022620&session=2007&view=contributions)

Dr. Conrad initiated the 2003 ban in West Hollywood with its then Mayor John Duran. A veterinarian herself, and the director of the Paw Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of the crippling effects of declawing, Dr. Conrad said, "The California Veterinary Medical Association is a group of veterinarians primarily concerned with lobbying to maximizing profits for their own practices. One would hope that the The California Veterinary Medical Association would be more interested in promoting the well-being of animals and less consumed with fighting for the right to maim defenseless cats."

The declawing procedure may make veterinarians as much as $1,200.00 an hour.

Declawing is the full amputation of the last knuckle of each toe. The procedure cuts through ligaments, tendons, nerves, skin, and blood vessels and is often done with a dull guillotine-type instrument that crunches the bone. This amputation leaves many cats defenseless and in constant pain, causing permanent health problems and bad behaviors such as biting and litter box avoidance.

The California Veterinary Medical Association stated in their court brief of 2005 that, "Whether viewed in the abstract as moral or immoral, ethical or unethical … declawing is a part of veterinary medicine." The California Veterinary Medical Association alleged that veterinarians should be allowed to perform declawing on animals without interference from cities such as West Hollywood.

"By this logic, veterinarians should not only be allowed to declaw cats to stop them from scratching furniture, but be able to amputate the legs of dogs to stop them from jumping on the couch," Dr. Conrad added.

Declawing is considered "Unnecessary mutilation" in the United Kingdom. It is absolutely illegal in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Australia and Poland.

The California Veterinary Medical Association sued West Hollywood in 2005 in an effort to overturn the city's humane ordinance outlawing declawing; however, in 2007 the Court of Appeal ruled that the city could ban the surgery, which the City Council considers "cruel and inhumane." The California Supreme Court has upheld this view. The only way to sneak around this would be to change state law.

In early 2008, Assembly member Mike Eng (D-El Monte) introduced AB 2427, which would amend the Business and Professions Code to prohibit a city or county from restricting practices by any profession that is licensed or certified by the State Department of Consumer Affairs. As intended by the California Veterinary Medical Association, this law would likely threaten the declaw ban, but since it also would have such wide-reaching effects on the traditional regulatory functions of local government, AB 2427 is actively opposed by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.

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Dr. Jennifer Conrad
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