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December 14, 2019

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New York state becomes first state to ban declaws


Gov. Cuomo signs bill imposing a civil penalty of $1,000 on people who perform onychectomies, partial or complete phalangectomies, or tendonectomies on cats without ‘a therapeutic purpose.’


New York has become the first state to ban feline declaws after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting the practice on July 22.


"Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops," Gov. Cuomo says in a statement on the New York State Governor’s Office website. "By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures."


The bill (A1303B and S5532B), first sponsored by New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), would create a civil penalty of $1,000 for anyone who performs “an onychectomy, partial or complete phalangectomy or tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat within the state of New York, except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose.” 


The bill goes on to state that the procedure can only be performed for the cat’s medical needs: “Therapeutic purpose means the necessity to address the physical medical condition of the cat, such as an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury or abnormal condition in the claw that compromises the cat’s health. Therapeutic purpose does not include cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling the cat.”


The state’s veterinary association—the New York State Veterinary Medical Society—opposed the bill, stating that the declaw decision should be in the hands of veterinarians: “[We] strongly encourage client education prior to consideration of declawing and believe the decision to declaw or not declaw a pet should be made by the pet owner in consultation with his or her veterinarian.”


Other groups and governments have banned feline declaws, including many European countries, most of Canada’s provinces (and VCA of Canada) and a handful of cities across the United States (including Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco).


Rosenthal had introduced a bill in 2015 to ban declaws, but it died in committee in 2016. Other declaw bans have been introduced in state legislatures in the past few years, including California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and New Jersey, but none have passed.


References: DVM360 MAGAZINE

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