I have been more appalled by declawing this year than any year prior. Two-thirds of people ask to declaw immediately when they purchase a cat and they want it done ASAP – not tomorrow, but now.
Worse of all, it is usually done right about the same time they are altered. This makes them even more traumatized. Occasionally, I even meet people that brag on and on for about 10 minutes how great declawing is and they finish by explaining that declawing every cat is vital.
It is fair to say that the amount of people that are against declawing is minuscule, but piece by piece, our voice is being heard.
When asked about declawing, shelters usually explain the cost of the surgery and sometimes go into further discussion. However, many shelters still don’t educate enough on the issue which leaves owners unaware and confused. A few pet shop workers I have talked to said “declawing needs to be done or your house will be destroyed”.
Armed with this powerful propaganda, it is easy to believe declawing is fair and beneficial and this type of information will find itself into a child’s brain faster than anyone can say “Cat!”
Perhaps people do not know how bad it is or perhaps they just want to declaw for selfish reasons. Either way, education is a great and valuable tool and one that must be used wisely.
So, one of the main things I’ve been thinking about this year is declawing. How can we help raise awareness of declawing in schools? Young children are the next adult generation and teaching them what is right and what is considered wrong is something that is essential. So, I’ve thought some things though, and decided to share some of my thoughts here.
1) Buy a camcorder or if you already have one, take a video of you talking about declawing. Talk about the pros and the cons, talk about alternatives and the ways that your audience can help protest declawing. You can either get down to brass tacks or make your video funny and humorous. If you are not comfortable with talking to a camera or out loud, making a video with facts and pictures demonstrating your point can be just as interesting. This video can go on Youtube and Facebook. Consider using this video for your next film project for school or sending it to a few friends and family. Another great idea is to make it into a slideshow and show it on TV for a class that is willing to listen to your views.
2) Necklaces, bumper stickers and logos are great for your car, book bags, art boxes and even books. You can place them just about anywhere! They are very attractive and although they are small, someone is bound to notice them. You can also sell them in a fundraiser or just for fun. Either way, you are getting the word out.
3) Create a poster and sell your thoughts. You can create your own poster or you can use Ruth’s posters which are both vivid and to the point. To find her posters all you have to do is search for “declawing poster” using the search box on the PoC’s home page (here is one example – leave a comment and Ruth should pick it up if you want large format versions). It is best to have your poster lightweight; your poster must be to the point and easy to read, try to not make it too compact with information. Humor and visual images are a plus. High school students will not take the time to read large lines of text while roaming the halls. I heavily recommend you make friends with your principal before asking permission to post them around your school and some good rep would also be useful along with extracurricular activities. Emailing your principal is a good idea since he is likely always busy. If you get permission – print out the email as proof and start hanging up your posters for best visual impact. Recommended places include: water fountains, lunch lines and bathrooms. Teachers I know would actually place them in front of the class for me too for the whole year – you just have to ask!
4) Write your next book report over Homer’s Odyssey. Homer’s Odyssey is a memoir written by Gwen Cooper about a blind cat that quickly turns from a tiny blind cat that no one believed in, into a three pound dynamo that eagerly made friends. In this book, it has a brief mention of declawing. If you give a book report over this book in high school, you sometimes have to do a book talk. As long as you stick to the book and the main details, you are allowed to talk about anything pertaining to the book and that gives you the opportunity to have a little chance on your pedestal to talk about declawing.
5) Do you want to speak up for your school? Schools welcome guest speakers, especially speakers that have an educational topic to share. They won’t allow a person that wants to speak just about declawing, but they would more than welcome a person that wants to talk about animal abuse. If you were to become a guest speaker and talk about animal abuse, you could also add in declawing as it is considered abuse and have a little talk about that along with all your other topics you have prepared. You can also bring cats to elementary schools if you want, especially if he/she is declawed you can explain that. Since kids are inquisitive they might ask “why?” Of course you wouldn’t go into explanation but say something that they can understand about it.
6) T Shirts are a great way to voice your cause. T shirts seem like a very small and ineffective way to educate but you would be surprised at the amount of people that have nothing to do in class and just look around. They will notice your T shirt and so will people in the halls, in lunch, and I’ve noticed that a lot of people are interested in what your shirt says for some reason. You can sell these if you get permission from your school which might also spread the word of your cause.
7) Write your next essay, speech, power point or short story about declawing cats. Be creative and have fun. You can write your essay about an anecdote that includes declawed cats. For example, my eyes were opened once I found out my friend had eight cats that were declawed. They were scratched, paws bleeding, and they were always allowed outside. A short story might be about a declawed cat that was rescued from a shelter and the power point would be solid facts and pictures.
8) Some humane societies have meetings just for communication between owners and animal lovers since introducing each other’s views can increase healthy thinking and often makes us challenge our own views and decide what is best for our animal. Come up with good reasons why your humane society should stop offering or promoting declawing and come up with sound and logical reasons. Make sure to join your HSUS group if you have one in your high school, and if you don’t, ask a teacher to help you make one and ask them if they would like to be the administrator of the group.
9) Newspaper and media. You can write a simple post to your newspaper. Make sure your article is concise and rich in facts and details. Random students can get news interviews too. Try to entice a news reporter and see how far that gets you!
10) Do you know any people that might love to help, that you are not friends with? Invite them over and make better friends of them. Ask them to join you in your mission to end declawing. Tell them all they have to do is wear a T shirt or even just take a sticker or two. Miniscule or not, it still helps a bunch. If even you and one other person wear a T shirt and sit at the same table during lunch – at least one person will notice the shirts. There is after all, power in numbers. If your friendship proves to be genuine, consider forming a Facebook group and start regular discussions about declawing. For lower grade students, you can always make up an interesting tale about a declawed cat. Tell them a rescue story, sure they might now always remember the stories you tell them, but they might.
11) Did you know you can actually job shadow a veterinarian in high school? You can job shadow anywhere for that matter. If you do, you might get to know the vet a lot better and discuss with him about declawing. Get to know him better first before rushing into controversial beliefs. It would be rude to barge though the front door and challenge his profession. If you are really energetic, job shadow a teacher and have story time – your perfect chance to spring a story about a declawed cat that once had a home. Depending on your audience, this story might transform multiple times.
Remember that your school might not always appreciate your views. If they get mad at you or anything that would be considered antipathy, feel free to report them. If your principal says “no” to your ideas, you can always seek help to override that decision if the other administrators see good reasoning for your efforts. You don’t always have to accept no – animals have taught us that.
I have actually tried most of these ideas and they work well. If I can afford a video camera I might get to make a video. What do you think of the ideas and what ideas can you offer?