Yes, declawing is a crime in Los Angeles, if it is done for non-therapeutic purposes, which accounts for 99.99% of all cases. The law came into force on 17th November 2009.
Allegedly Mission Animal Care Center were in breach of the law. This has been reported on the Paw Project Facebook site yesterday, 6th June 2013. Note: I have used the word “allegedly” to protect PoC in case something has been misrepresented.
We are told that the clinic was caught performing illegal declaw surgery by a representative from an LA City Council member and a law enforcement officer who visited the facility. It seems they were caught red handed. A straight bust.
The ordinance (the law) in question states that the crime of declawing for non-therapeutic purposes is a misdemeanor. What is a misdemeanor? It is a low level crime with sentencing to match. However, the sentencing on conviction for a standard misdemeanor in California is a maximum six-month county jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine1. Yet the clinic owners will only get an official warning from the city.
The interesting part of the criminal legislation that makes declawing a crime (Ordinance No: 180986) is that the following people are guilty of the crime on conviction:
- the person or persons performing the surgery;
- the person or persons who assisted;
- the person or persons who “procured” the surgery – this means the cat’s owner or anyone who assisted the owner in procuring the surgery or who, for example, paid for the surgery. It covers a wide range of people, potentially.
On the basis that the allegation is true, what the hell happened to the cat’s owner? It appears that he or she has not been mentioned. Potentially, everyone at the vet’s clinic plus the cat’s owner could have been jailed for 6 months and fined $1,000. Yet nothing. As I understand it, no one was charged with the crime of declawing.
This is a big mistake as it sends very much the wrong signal to others. I sense that enforcement of this very important ground breaking legislation is not being taken seriously enough.
Apparently neither the owner nor the clinic’s staff including the vet had heard of the law banning declawing in Los Angeles! It is impossible to believe that and, in any case, it is not a defense to a crime.
Polite message to LA officials: Well done in creating the law. Please ensure that you fully enforce it because if not the law will become an ass and quite pointless.
Note: My thanks to Ruth aka Kattaddorra for showing me the news.