22 June 2016

LEGISLATION - New Jersey Bill Will Ban Declawing

A proposed law would make New Jersey the first state to ban declawing of cats.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton has sponsored legislation that would add onychetomy, the medical term for declawing, to the list of criminal animal cruelty offenses.

Veterinarians that perform the surgery and people who seek it out would face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. Violators would also face a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000.

Declawing done for medical reasons would be exempt from the new law.

Most people have their cats declawed to protect their property from scratching, however, rather than for medical reasons.

Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe - something many animal organizations feel is inhumane. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off the tip of each finger at the joint.

The American Veterinary Medical Association states, “declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s).”

The Humane Society of the United States “opposes declawing except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.”

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is currently conducting a membership consultation about their domestic cat declawing policy.

If New Jersey passes this legislation, it will be following in the footsteps of a variety of countries around the world.

Declawing traditionally hasn’t been as common in places like Britain, where it was outlawed in 2006.

Many European countries prohibit or significantly restrict the practice, as do Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Turkey.

In the U.S., New York State also has pending legislation to ban the practice, and cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Burbank, Berkeley, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills already have bans in place.

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