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Los Angeles City Council bans cat declawing

November 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday banning the declawing of cats in Los Angeles. The council, which initially approved the measure Nov. 6, gave the ordinance unanimous final approval Tuesday without discussion.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who proposed the ordinance along with Councilman Bill Rosendahl, called declawing a form of mutilation.

"We need to ban declawing, which is one of the most cruel practices," Koretz said earlier. "The obvious truth is that declawing does nothing good for cats. It is not clipping nails. It is actually amputation, sometimes leaving cats crippled and in pain for the rest of the lives."

The ordinance states that "no person, licensed medical professional or otherwise, shall perform or cause to be performed an onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy procedure for any means on a cat or any other animal within the city, except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose."

Violations would be considered misdemeanors.

City Council President Eric Garcetti added an urgency clause to the ordinance so it can take effect before New Year's Day 2010, when the state will begin banning cities and counties from regulating the practice of veterinary medicine,

Koretz said people who are considering declawing their cats to protect their furniture should instead buy scratching posts; cover their pet's claws with a plastic coating called "soft paws"; clip claws frequently; or adopt a second cat to keep the other feline company.

Koretz said pain from declawing often makes cats develop even worse behaviors than scratching, including biting and avoiding their litter box.

The UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital describes declawing as a permanent surgical procedure where the last bone, phalanx and claw of each toe on a cat's paw is removed.

The California Veterinary Medical Association, which represents more than 6,100 veterinary professionals across the state, opposed the ordinance.

In a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, association President Mark Nunez wrote that "the decision to declaw a cat should remain between the owner, in consultation with his or her veterinarian on a case-to-case basis."

According to the city's Department of Animal Services, if done properly, declawing is not animal cruelty, but the procedure should be a last resort before a pet is given up for adoption or euthanized.

West Hollywood, where Koretz used to be mayor, outlawed declawing in 2003. The Beverly Hills City Council gave final approval Tuesday nightto a declawing ban.

Santa Monica and San Francisco have given initial approval to a ban on cat declawing. Malibu's City Council approved a resolution opposing declawing in 2003, but rejected a proposed ordinance last month.


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