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Denver councilwoman wants to outlaw ‘cruel practice’ of cat declawing

Author: Adam McCoy - October 23, 2017 - Updated: October 23, 2017

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Close-up of cat paw with claws out. (iStock image / chaiyon021)

Labeling it a “cruel practice,” Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black has authored a bill that would make declawing cats illegal.

The bill would make it unlawful to declaw cats unless it is deemed medically necessary, including to treat physical illness or injury or to correct a congenital abnormality. Then, only a licensed veterinarian could perform the procedure on a cat placed under anesthesia.

The bill is slated to be discussed in Denver’s Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee on Wednesday. If it wins approval, it would then move on to the full council.

In an interview with Denverite, Black said the procedure is often characterized and sold to pet owners as a simple one, but it’s awful and “like chopping off the last knuckle of your finger.” If the bill were to become law, a committee would begin discussion of enforcement and penalties, Black told Denverite.

Black received a slew of letters of support for the proposed bill, including from the mayors of Los Angeles and West Hollywood; the host of the Animal Planet show, “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy; the Colorado Voters for Animals, state Sen. Lois Court and local cat rescue organizations.

In his letter of support, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti argues that proponents of declawing will allege a ban will result in a “deluge of cats coming into public shelters system.”

“This emotional claim is not supported by hard statistics gathered by the Los Angeles Animal Services Department, which serves a city of 4 million people,” Garcetti’s letter reads. “There were 26,942 owner-surrendered cats that came into the Los Angeles shelter system in the five years before the Los Angeles ban went into effect, compared to 15,276 owner-surrendered cats in the five years afterward, a reduction of 43.3%.”

Galaxy, who in addition to hosting his popular Animal Planet show said he has worked in shelters for 25 years and serves as a cat behavior and wellness consultant, called declawing inhumane and barbaric.

“Claws are a physically, socially, and emotionally vital part of every cat,” Galaxy argued. “Scratching, for a cat, is not only a natural act, but a necessary one as well. It is an essential element of a cats’ [sic] ability to communicate, problem-solve, and stay healthy and secure.”

As Denverite notes, the the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association see declawing as a last resort to “destructive clawing” or when it threatens a cat’s health.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.


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