Declawing is seen by many as a quick fix for unwanted scratching by cats and ruining furniture. However, these invasive procedures are, in most instances, medically unnecessary, and can cause lasting physical problems and other consequences for cats. The most popular method of declawing, onychectomy, involves amputating the last bone of each toe on a cat’s paw with a scalpel, guillotine, or laser. A second procedure, flexortendonectomy involved severing the tendon that controls the claw in each toe, so that the cat keeps its claws, but cannot flex or extend them. These procedures can and do cause pain in the cat’s paw, bleeding, lameness, infection, and other painful symptoms. These symptoms, while eliminating scratching furniture, make a cat less likely to use its litter box. Consequently, declawing should never be used except in rare cases,when it is absolutely necessary for therapeutic purposes only, such as removal of cancerous tumors. Nontherapeutic declawing procedures are inhumane and, by definition, serves no legitimate medical purpose, performing such procedures are not a“portion”of the practice of veterinary medicine.  Because this bill is an anti-cruelty measure and is not directed solely to veterinarians, but to any person who authorizes or performs such procedures, including the owner of the animal, it imposes additional licensing conditions or qualification as a requirement.  By definition “surgery” is the “treatment of disease, injury, or deformity  by manual or instrumental operations,” quoting Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, as well as citing similar definitions from a variety of standard, legal and medical dictionaries. This bill would identify that the declawing procedure, not only on domesticated cats or animals but also in relation to wild or exotic cats, is an intentional unprofessional act of animal cruelty.

 

As discussed above, performing either procedure, onychectomies or flexortendonectomies, whether necessary or not necessary for therapeutic purposes, is currently part of veterinary medicine. Nonetheless, NRS 574.050 section 5, “torture” or “cruelty” includes every act, omission or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical pain,suffering or death is caused or permitted. The very principles that the veterinary profession is to adhere  a progressive code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (the Principles), the Golden Rule. This rule is an ethical guide to their general professional and personal conduct, and they must abide by these ethical Principles.

Professional behavior means their first consideration should be the patient, to relieve disease, suffering, or disability while minimizing pain or fear. These procedures do not follow the Golden Rule. In fact, veterinarian professional responsibilities go beyond the patient and they should not be allowed to profit on such a barbaric debilitating procedure.


“Torture” or “cruelty” includes every act, omission or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death is caused or permitted.

by providing these cruel and unnecessary procedures as the health or welfare of the animal patient should always come first over the request of the animals’ owner. Veterinarian’s code of ethics should prevent them from providing these procedures; rather the focus is to relieve the suffering of animals with competence and compassion, not inflicting direct harm. Both of these procedures go against the very grain of the code of ethics. The veterinary medical profession must ensure the quality of health care services for all animals, not intentionally surgically perform amputation on animals, by performing onychectomies or flexor tendonectomies.

 

Many vets refuse to perform the surgery. For instance:

- Dr. Jennifer Conrad wrote in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) that “routine declawing (unlike sterilization) is never performed for the sake of the animal” and that as a veterinarian, she has “an obligation to do what is best for the animals and not what is most convenient for their owners.” 

 

- Dr. Melinda Merck does not perform declawing surgeries at her Georgia clinic, saying the process “is an amputation … and it’s awful.” 

 

- The Cat Practice in New York City tells its clients, “If you love your cat … don’t declaw!

Nearly two-dozen countries — including England, Australia, and Japan —have  prohibited or severely restricted veterinarians from performing the painful, permanently crippling,and mutilating procedure. The following is a list of countries in which declawing cats is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extreme circumstances:

 

  • England

  • Scotland

  • Wales

  • Italy

  • Austria

  • Switzerland

  • Norway

  • Sweden

  • Ireland

  • Denmark

  • Finland

  • Slovenia

  • Brazil

  • Australia

  • NewZealand

  • Serbia

  • Montenegro

  • Macedonia

  • Slovenia

  • France

  • Germany

  • Bosnia

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • NorthernIreland

  • Portugal

  • Belgium

  • Israel

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