Alleged: first LA veterinarian to commit crime of declawing

Alleged firs vet to break declaw criminal codeYes, 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.

Ref:

  1. shouselaw.com

signature2

Facebook Comments

Comments

Alleged: first LA veterinarian to commit crime of declawing — 28 Comments

  1. I could hardly believe it when I saw the clinic had pleaded ignorance of the ban Michael, in fact I commented on the Paw Project page that how on earth could everyone at the clinic plead ignorance of the law when even so far away here in the UK we know exactly which cities in America have banned declawing.
    There is also a debate about this incident on ‘The American Veterinary Workers against Declawing’ facebook page too and one member has phoned the police to complain that no arrests were made and another has commented about veterinary records not being completed.
    The AVMA won’t want to be involved as they just turn a blind eye to this abuse of cats.
    This should have been more thoroughly investigated, every person at the clinic interviewed, surely they can’t all be pro declaw and ignorant of the law? How many more cats have been illegally mutilated this way before the abusers were caught out this time?

    • How many more cats have been illegally mutilated this way before the abusers were caught out this time?

      This is a very good point because the way the authorities have dealt with this case indicates poor enforcement of this ground breaking law. I don’t think people have really committed to a ban on declawing. Is this a sign of a public opinion that is undecided? People know declawing is wrong but struggle to get out of the habit. It is very engrained in American society.

  2. Well done for this article Micheal the more publicity this crime gets the less people will be able to bleat that they didn’t know declawing was banned there.
    Every person at the clinic and the owner of the cat should ALL be prosecuted and so should the AVMA if they don’t do anything about this blatant crime.

    • Thanks Rose. There is something wrong about this. As you say the veterinarian and the cat’s owner should have been charged. I wonder if this vet was known to be one who flouted the law which attracted people who wanted to declaw their cats.

  3. Yes I don’t think this was a one off declaw op at all,someone must have tipped the council member and law enforcement officer off,maybe there is ONE person working at the clinic who was unhappy about it happening?

    • Yes, that seems possible, certainly. I have a horrible feeling that other vet clinics are flouting the law because enforcement is poor. If I am correct it shows how criminally minded vets can be.

  4. It’s a bit like our Hunting with dogs ban, some hunts thought they could get away with still doing it, but thankfully we have our RSPCA and there have been some successful prosecutions of those hunts which ignored the law.
    Maybe the American equivalent of the RSPCA need to be involved in ensuring the declawing ban isn’t broken by vets who think they are above the law.

    • Yes, and this case makes me doubtful whether the ban is being enforced. In which case I would expect other vets to be doing similar things. There needs to be checks and where criminal behavior is found both the vet and the cat’s owner should be punished properly. That would be a deterrent.

  5. Very interesting, and quite disturbing. I have to agree with Rose. To me it sounds as if the law was passed, and the clinic ignored it, and continued to perform the procedure. I highly doubt this cat is the first to be declawed within the clinic since the passing of the law. However, I hope it is indeed the last. I hope all involved suffer the consequences for this. Although the maximum fine certainly is not enough to compensate for the years of suffering this cat will now have to endure.

    • I highly doubt this cat is the first to be declawed within the clinic since the passing of the law

      I totally agree that. I would bet my last pound that they have been quietly declawing since the ban, which is why they should have been punished properly. The clinic should certainly be monitored carefully from now on. Also the fact that the authorities made what appears to be a spot check indicates that this clinic had a reputation for flouting the law.

      Nice to hear from you Maggie. Hope you are well and your cats.

    • I agree too Maggie – exactly what you say – they have probably been doing it regardless of the law and they should be punished above all for the fact. Surely lawmakers don’t take too kindly to their laws not being taken seriously so this should be taken seriously.

      To be fair, it is already pretty good that they were caught.

      The best way to find out is to ask clients of the vet office involved. Actually I wonder if the vet offers declawing without even mentioning the legal issue, therefore keeping the client in the dark about how cruel it is. Probably. Vet’s not exactly going to say “well it’s illegal but we can do it” – so I think this vet should be shut down and jailed for complete disregard not only for the law but also to the cruelty.

      • I just checked their website and they don’t advertise declawing currently, which is commonsense. But I sense that they respond with a Yes if someone asks about declawing. They could merge declawing with vaccinations or neutering to mask it.

        If the authorities were taking the law seriously a prosecution and conviction could and should have happened with a proper sentence (at least financial). The owner should have been punished too.

  6. I have said all along that making declawing illegal solves nothing if the American people disagree with the law. They will neither follow it nor enforce it. Obviously, I was right. It is still all about education. If people really know and understand what declawing is they won’t do it. Those who do it anyway will be punished then because it will be so obvious to everyone that it is animal cruelty. We have not succeeded in educating the American public. And no wonder. Vets are constantly belittling our efforts and telling their clients that it’s no big deal or worse yet, saying that it’s good for the cat and that every cat should be declawed. Americans hear professionals in the field of animal welfare say that declawing is fine and decide we who oppose it are nutty and trying to restrict their freedoms. We cannot win this until the veterinary profession comes out against declawing and stops doing it. Even a law against it is useless until that happens. I have more education than most people in anatomy and kinesiology, but my friends who want to declaw disregard my explanations as to why it is wrong. What do I know? I’m not a vet. Kudos to vets who fight against declawing, but there aren’t enough of them yet to make a difference. So long as the majority of vets say it is ok, we can’t stop it, even with a law against it. The vets are where the blame lies and they will have to answer to God one day for putting money ahead of the welfare of living beings. I guess we need to bother vets about it more, even though they often will become verbally abusive when you question them on this subject. I know. It’s happened to me, and I was told I was the one being rude.

    But I guess that’s what we need to do. An army of us pestering vets about it. God isn’t going to back down or give them a break on this. It’s wrong. Wrong is wrong. We have to stand up against it. If we do not, then the fault is also ours. But if we stand up again and again and say to them that it’s wrong, then the fault is all theirs. And maybe if we got enough people complaining to enough vets, they might see the tide of public opinion turning and change their stance on this issue.

    • I agree Ruth – education and making sure the next generation grows up knowing it’s wrong – is the main and most effective tactic in the long run. It has to be made known again and again until people just stop doing it.

  7. I am not surprised that this has happened at all. Surely ALL vets in the LA area affected by the ban should have been informed of this by the authorities when the ban was implemented?

    With the current economic climate, owners not taking animals to vets for routine care and treatment, the market is wide open for unscrupulous, greedy and immoral vets to be pushing this barbaric surgery to ignorant owners in the hope of making money. The vets clearly don’t give a fig about the law at all.

    I think thousands and thousands of beautiful, innocent cats have been mutilated and crippled since this weak law was created. It doesn’t look as if much inforcement has happened.

    Education is the key. To owners, to vets to everyone, especially children, who might stand a chance of growing up into decent human beings who do not treat animals like objects, to be abused by vets (for money) who should never, ever be in practice.

    The ASPCA and the AVMA are both wealthy enough to have ensured that every vet was notified of this law and I don’t think either did this. HSUS could cough up a million or so dollars to ensure that every vet is notified too, but hey ho, better that money sits in the bank than it benefitting the welfare of animals.

    • You have hit the nail on the head. “Law” means nothing really unless people want to comply with it and the majority of people in the USA don’t want to give up declawing. It is a way of life. It is normal, the way things should be.

  8. I can’t believe they got away with it by saying they didn’t know declawing is banned, as Ruth rightly says we know about it here in England thousands of miles away, so if the vet practice in question “didn’t know” then they’re obviously not keeping up with the latest information not only on this but on veterinary practice in general,I’ve never worked for a vet but I’ve worked for a pharmacist and he had his nose in a professional magazine every week because as he said he couldn’t afford not to be up to date with legislation and new products. Surely vets are the same and if not they should be closed down. I don’t believe for one minute that not a single person in that clinic nor the owner knew declawing was banned. They’ve all got away with it except the cat(s) that have been abused. For shame 🙁

    • Absolutely, there is no doubt that they knew and know the law but just flouted it – ignored it knowing they could get away with it. It is almost as if the ban started a black market in declawing. The LA ban on declawing might have pushed it underground. The biggest problem is enforcement. The LA councillors make the law but do the police support it and enforce it?

  9. I agree with you all there is absolutely no way that this clinic didn’t know that de-clawing was illegal how could they have missed such an important piece of legislation?

    Good on all those who have complained to the police as well after all what sort of message does this send out?

    In the UK ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law I’m sue it applies in the US as well.

  10. I have NEVER had a kitteh declawed…that having been said, my late husband and I had a wonderful, sweet boy named Merlin ‘The Wizard’ Halbert, who had been declawed when he was neutered, by his previous parents. He was a very happy camper and never seemed to miss his nails in the least. If everyone who does have kittehs with claws has furniture like mine, I can see exactly what prompts peeps to do the deed. My Italian Leather sofa, chair and ottoman is scrolled all over and gnawed on and would win the ‘distressed leather’ contest hands down! But…my kitteh kids still have their claws that God gave them.

    • Good for you Carol. Well done, I say. Merlin sounds as if he was OK with declawing but we are never totally sure what a cat is feeling. However, lots of cats are declawed badly causing long term pain and discomfort and lots behavioral problems, we are told. Many are relinquished at shelters.

  11. ‘He never seemed to miss his nails in the least’

    Any pro declaw reading that might say ‘Oh it’s fine to have declawing done to kittens then’
    So I need to point out to them that cats are very stoic and hide their pain as long as they can, maybe all cats don’t suffer pain after the first shock and agony after the surgery has worn off, every declawed cat misses his nails but they have to adjust to life without them, what else can they do?
    Merlin was declawed when he was neutered so that means he wasn’t very old and was declawed routinely instead of being taught to use a scratching post. This is the problem, declawing isn’t supposed to be a routine operation, it’s supposed to be a last resort for serious scratching problems. His owners had no right to have his essential claws taken from him forcing him to live a disabled life, he couldn’t do what clawed cats do so he missed out on a full quality life no matter that he seemed OK.
    Carol I’m so glad you put your cats health and happiness above inanimate replaceable furniture, how I wish every one did that.

    • Yes, Ruth. I was grazing my index finger against the pad on my laptop, while reading your comment. I cannot bear to read the article above.

      I suffer from neuropathy in my toes. When I was a young child, I saw a kitten with bandages on it’s paws. It affected me for life. Watching it try to walk, suffering in pain. Little did I know that it would be suffering much more after the bandages were removed by the money-hungry vet.

      Well, now that I am beyond those childhood years, when I hear about a potential declawing—it breaks my heart. HOW COULD ANY INTELLIGENT petlover do such a thing, to a cat?

      • They are most likely naive and gullible, as most of us are. Those of us who are not sensitive to the poor cat. Dogs? Perhaps they can stand being abused by their owners. Cats, on the other hand, cannot. (I do not think that either genus can.) Cats are taunted, skinned alive, abused every single day, by those who have no feeling towards them.

        Ruth, this is why I still to this day stand by my vet–not wholeheartedly–because she pieced back together on an Oct31st a black kitten who was skinned alive here in Lincoln, NE by two contemptible assholes in a red pickup who were caught. That beautiful BLACK kitten lived in her office for yrs after suffering such a horrible trauma. (She took him home each night.) He represented everything wrong with this world. Why wouldn’t these sadists come to terms with the facts of their childhood? Why would they abuse a little kitten, who had done nothing to them, and was looking for help?

        • I don’t know why some people think it’s OK to abuse animals, maybe they had been abused themselves as children but that should make them kinder to other living beings. Why instead when they know what pain and/or fear feel like do they inflict it on innocent creatures?
          I don’t know either why otherwise compassionate vets choose to abuse cats by declawing them. They can’t pretend not to know they cause the cats pain and disablement they must have studied the anatomy of a cat so they can not plead ignorance.
          I’ve puzzled over this many times, like your vet saving that kitten’s life, if she had found him a good home and the adopters wanted him declawed, would she have agreed? I’ve read about cases where kittens and cats have been rescued then the rescuers spoiling their good deed by having the cat declawed.
          As you said Caroline how could any intelligent pet lover have a cat declawed and I say how could any intelligent person who trained to be a vet to care for animals, so obviously loves them, agree to perform that surgery?
          It’s a horrible enough world for cats because of all the animal abusers but made even worse by those vets who legally abuse cats by declawing them.
          Yes it breaks my heart too every time I hear of another kitten or cat doomed to suffer pain and disablement and that’s why I will help those of you over there against it to educate as many people as possible about the truth of this cruel surgery, until the day comes when declawing is banned worldwide.

          • I am equally bemused how people can do these things. To shoot tiny kittens with a revolver at point blank range you have to be emotionally dead or sadistic. There is no other conclusion to come to. And for a vet to take a scalpel to all the toes of a cat and chop of the last section you also have to be completely disconnected from the sensitivities of life.

            In addition a person who does these things must have a low regard for animals and cats in particularly. It is disturbing and for me depressing. I am used to it but it spoils life.

            • ‘It spoils life’
              You are so right there Michael, even at happy times of helping cats, in the back of my mind there is always the thought of other cats suffering who we can’t help.
              I can’t understand why some people are compassionate and kind yet others are cruel, will the entire human race EVER be humane? I don’t think so, do you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.