Thursday, January 19, 2017

All Cat Eyes on New Jersey: Your State Assembly Votes for Felines Next Week

Congratulations to the great state of New Jersey!

Your Bill A. 3899 to prohibit cat declawing was just posted to be voted on by the New Jersey Assembly. The date for the vote is: this coming Monday, January 23rd.

This is the furthest any state declaw ban has advanced without weakening amendments to date. New Jersey stands to be the first state in the United States to make the inhumane and misguided practice of declawing illegal. Here in New York, we do not take this lightly, as our (more lenient!) declaw bill has been struck down for a possible vote 2 years in a row, despite having bipartisan sponsorship, overwhelming popular support, and the endorsement of almost 140 veterinarians and 50 shelter/rescue organizations statewide.

As many of you know, declawing is not merely nail removal. It involves 10-18 painful amputations of bone, and has the potential to cause short or long-term pain, health issues and behavioral problems. It has a whopping post-operative complication rate of up to 50%. Despite this convenience surgery being ingrained in the lexicon of veterinary "medicine", it is actually associated with dozens of medical problems, while conferring no medical benefit.

Several years ago, the American Veterinary Medical Association rightfully "condemned" the same procedure being performed in captive exotic cats as small as bobcats, which typically weigh 18 lbs. However, the AVMA remains reluctant to completely condemn the practice for house cats. Veterinary businesses don't typically see clients with credit card in hand, requesting a bobcat declaw. However, as many as 25% of American house cats are declawed. Consequently, some vets see condemning housecat declaws as a threat to business or their perceived right to practice, no matter how far the procedure may be out of line with medical ethics, and no matter how many shelter vets/medical agencies say it isn't helping feline welfare or public health.

Declawing ban legislation is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, The Paw Project, Ethical Veterinary, and many private veterinarians and hospitals who refuse to perform the procedure. Declawing is also illegal or condemned by veterinary medical associations in over 28 countries worldwide.

Some veterinarians continue to state that this controversial procedure should stick around for certain rare instances; some propagate the notion that more cats will end up in shelters or be euthanized if caregivers are not allowed the option to declaw. This sweeping and poorly supported claim is being convincingly debunked. Cat intake and relinquishment data from the several major U.S. cities that enacted declaw bans within the last 13 years show that none of their shelter services had a documented increase in cats being relinquished to shelters after the laws were enacted. In fact, most showed a decrease in cat relinquishment and all showed a reduction in cat intake numbers after the bans were in place; these numbers have remained lower every year since.

If you live in New Jersey and would like to see the declaw bill pass, your assemblymember's office needs to hear from you before Monday, Jan.23rd. If you've never called a legislative office, you will laugh afterwards at how easy it was---it's as easy as ordering takeout! You simply tell the aide your name, town/county of residence, that you strongly support Bill A. 3899 to ban cat declawing, and that you hope your assemblymember will vote "yes" on it. They will write that basic information down. If you wish to say more, or share your own experience with declawing, you can. If not, they will thank you, you thank them, and you hang up (knowing you've done something small but great for animals).

And how do you find your NJ assemblymember's name and office phone number? With your zip code and a simple click here. Very important: Please only call if you have an address in New Jersey - legislators need to only hear from residents in their district. If you do not live in NJ, feel free to share this widely with friends or family who do. It would make a huge impact on the bill's fate.

Good luck, New Jersey! All cat eyes are on you!

1 comment:

  1. hello,
    I would love to talk to you about sharing your blog and ideas. I am a veterinarian who also blogs about the state of vet med, the great divide in our perception of our place in society, and the love for our pets and patients.. I also provide my own thoughts on the ethics behind what a vet is expected to be, and how we manage all of the directions we get pulled in.. In summary I enjoyed reading your blogs and look forward to more of them. Take care, krista. I am on linked in and fb, or my blog