Some in New Jersey think declawing is a faux-paws.
And now, the state could be the first in the U.S. to ban it.
On Nov. 14, an assembly committee approved a bill that would ban veterinarians in the Garden State from carrying out the procedure, deeming it a criminal act of animal cruelty. If the bill passes the legislature, vets and pet owners who violate the law would be punishable by an up to $1,000 fine and six months in prison, according to the bill.
“For humans not to respect the integrity of the animal and the animal’s body is criminal,” Linda Rosenthal, an assembly sponsor for a similar bill in New York, said during a press conference in May. “However, it’s still allowed, it’s an option, and that’s why we aim to make it illegal.”
People declaw their cats to prevent them from scratching, according to The Humane Society.
The procedure involves cutting bone from the animal’s toes, which could have harmful side effects like nerve damage and bone spurs.
“Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails — the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed,” The Humane Society writes on its site. “Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”
Jim Nelson, a New Jersey vet, does not think the procedure is cruel as long as it’s done properly.
“I don’t think it’s any more pain inducing than spaying a cat or neutering a cat and they recover from it quickly,” he told ABC6, an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. “I don’t think it’s inhumane.”
Other vets believe that the procedure can save cats exhibiting destructive scratching behavior from being euthanized.
For instance, NJ.com reports that Assemblyman Parker Space voted against the bill based on his own experience with his cat whose claws were catastrophic to his home, causing $600 worth of damage.
“It was either getting declawed or going back to the shelter,” Space told the outlet.
Many vets, however, do stand by the belief that declawing is unkind.
“It’s a disfiguring, inhumane and misguided procedure,” Eileen Jefferson, a New York veterinarian who does not perform the procedure, told The Associated Press.