Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Announces Historic Shift, Now Opposes Declawing

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The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) announced that they are opposed to declawing of cats joining nearly 20 other countries, except for the United States. The Paw Project worked with the CVMA on this policy change and is working to ban declawing in several states in the U.S. including New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

The Paw Project

Therefore, from an ethical viewpoint, the CVMA views this surgery as unacceptable as it offers no advantage to the feline

The Paw Project, a nonprofit veterinarian-led animal advocacy organization, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) are working to protect the paws of millions of domestic felines. The CVMA has unveiled a powerful new position statement opposing the unnecessary and painful surgery they are calling "Partial Digital Amputation (PDA)," also known euphemistically as "declawing." The CVMA crafted their document from scientific evidence and facts provided by the Paw Project, the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to ending declawing.

Declawing is the amputation of part or all of the last bone in cats' toes. The CVMA position statement now says, "Veterinarians strive to use their scientific knowledge to promote animal health and welfare and relieve animal suffering in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. With or without concrete scientific evidence, ethical consideration has to be given to the welfare of the animal. Veterinarians need to consider what advantages non-medically driven PDAs offer to the feline. Viable alternatives to PDAs exist. Therefore, from an ethical viewpoint, the CVMA views this surgery as unacceptable as it offers no advantage to the feline and the lack of scientific evidence leaves us unable to predict the likelihood of long-term behavioral and physical negative side effects."

Although not binding to vets, the new statement calls on Canadian vets to educate their clients on the humane alternatives to declawing and dismisses the rationalizations used by the U.S. vets that declawing is sometimes necessary to preserve the “human-animal bond.” Declawing a cat does not ensure that that animal will keep its home, in fact, the behavior problems caused by the painful surgery often cause cats to lose their homes and declawing a cat is never necessary to protect immunocompromised humans who live with these cats. CVMA joins veterinary medical societies in many other countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand in opposing declawing.

Banned in most highly developed nations worldwide, declawing surgery is still commonly performed in the United States. Estimates are that 25% of American cats are declawed in a surgery that can take fewer than 20 minutes to perform and can garner a vet over $1000. Although they adamantly condemn the declawing of wild and exotic cats, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. equivalent of the CVMA, has not been bold enough to come out against the lucrative surgery of declawing of domestic cats.

“'As a member of the CVMA council, I am proud to promote our new position statement opposing partial-digit-amputation (declawing) of cats,” Enid Stiles, DVM, Paw Project-Quebec Director said. “The CVMA considers this procedure without medical benefit to cats and given its possible and considerable complications, it should be considered unethical. It is evident that felines suffer needlessly when undergoing this surgery as an elective measure. Furthermore, behavioural research and experience has advanced significantly and allows veterinarians guide clients in modifying unwanted scratching behavior without the completion of an partial-digit amputation.”

“We applaud Canada for taking the lead on this important animal protection issue,” said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, who founded The Paw Project. “Now it’s time for Veterinary Medical Societies in the United States to join the rest of the developed world in the 21st Century and oppose this barbaric procedure.” Due to The Paw Project’s efforts, declawing cats is illegal in eight California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Anti-declawing legislation is currently active in capitals of four states, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Rhode Island.

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Joshua Poupore

Dr. Jennifer Conrad
since: 04/2009
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