In what could become a landmark decision, the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in New Jersey approved of a bill (titled A3899/S2410) that would deem declawing an act of animal cruelty, except in cases where it is medically necessary.
According to NJ.com, the bill states that "Veterinarians caught declawing a cat and people who seek them 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."
The ban of the controversial procedure—in which the claw and, sometimes, the bony top of each finger or toe is removed—would be the first of its kind in the United States. The news has been met with varying responses from lawmakers and veterinary professionals.
NJ.com reports that Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: "Declawing is a barbaric practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity. Many countries worldwide acknowledge the inhumane nature of declawing, which causes extreme pain to cats. It's time for New Jersey to join them." Nicole Feddersen, medical director for the Monmouth County SPCA, also described it as an "invasive surgery," that puts cats "at risk for pain and lameness."
However, some medical professionals, including the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, oppose the bill. In a statement release to petMD, the NJVMA says that because so many pet parents who are unwilling or unable to change their cat's scratching behaviors, they are "likely to abandon or euthanize their cats if de-clawing is not an option. The NJVMA believes that de-clawing is preferable to abandonment or euthanasia." They also note that at-risk pet parents (including diabetics) can not run the risk of having a cat scratch them.
The NJVMA cites that, "Veterinarians are the animal experts. Medical procedures should not be legislated but should be left as a decision between the owner and his or her veterinarian." They also argue that those opposed to declawing "generally reference outdated medical and pain management procedures. Modern veterinary medicine now provides much-improved pain management procedures and the utilization of laser surgery have improved both the outcome and recovery times for de-clawed cats."
For some safe and effective alternatives to decalwing your cat, read up on these vet-suggested tips.
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