I recently had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Utah veterinarian Dr. Kristen Doub. She is a cat lover extraordinaire who is greatly concerned about feline health and their welfare. But what is extra-special about Dr. Doub’s practice is her unwillingness to declaw cats and the extraordinary research she is doing to prove that cats who are declawed are suffering immensely.
Doub received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. As a younger veterinarian she has already been discriminated against by senior vets and some staff at clinics in which she worked due to her refusal to declaw cats.
Fortunately for cats, this discrimination motivated her to open her own clinic; the Union Park Veterinary Hospital in Cottonwood Heights, Utah and to hire like-minded staff. Her hospital is right down the street from the “chop shops” where she set out to “out-compete” them by using better medicine and deep compassion.
In addition to refusing to declaw cats, she will not dock tails or do dewclaws on puppies who are awake, won’t debark them, or crop their ears.
“I wasn’t taught these things in school and I am not planning on starting the torture now to follow suit with the cowboys.“
Since Doub refuses to declaw cats, as a result she is sure she may lose some clients. However these are clients she doesn’t want in her practice. Her goal is to attract clients that treat their pets as family members; and asking her to declaw their cats just to preserve furniture certainly does not fit into that equation. Instead she offers free nail trims for her feline patients.
I asked Doub if she thought that veterinarians who won’t declaw don’t openly advertise their philosophy since it may scare away new clients. She said,
“I do think there are vets who don’t want to declaw or even who don’t, but don’t advertise this. They are ashamed of their ethics. What kind of world do we live in when you are ashamed of your ethics?”
Even though there are horrendous risks associated with the procedure, many veterinarians justify performing the surgery using the myth that declawing “preserves” cats’ homes. I wonder if they have convinced themselves that this is true. Since there actually is a strong correlation between cats being declawed and ultimately surrendered to shelters due to their inappropriate elimination and aggressive behavior after they have lost their first line of defense and are suffering. I asked Doub if veterinarians who routinely declaw continue to do so mainly to boost their income.
I was totally stunned by Doub’s response. I had no idea about the huge profits that these practioners make by performing this surgery. This extremely low overhead procedure is an astronomical money-maker. A pair of Rescoe nail trimmers costs less than $20. About 1,000 kitty toes can be amputated before a replacement is needed. What’s more, shockingly, most veterinarians who routinely declaw don’t even use sterile gowns or sterile preps and administer to the cats lousy, cheap post-operative pain medication.
Although declawing should never be done at all, Doub explained that if the procedure is to be done “right” using sterile prep and post-operative pain medication (which includes constant rate infusion) should cost the client $2000 – which works out to be $200 per amputation. The clinic cost of the surgery is the two minutes of the doctor time – approximately $12. So when you factor in doing the declawing along with a $30 cat neuter or $60 cat spay at a cost of between $100- $350 – this is a big ticket item. It is a very low cost, high profit procedure.
Adding to procedures that truly are acts of animal cruelty, according to Dr. Doub, apparently a group of California veterinarians are already considering declawing the canines who scratch their owners and are marring their hard-wood floors. And these veterinarians vow to “do no harm”? What’s next? Give me a break!
Dr. Doub is the director of Paw Project Utah, a local branch of the Paw Project. The Paw Project’s mission is ending the inhumane practice of declawing.
Doub is presently involved in an extensive research project examining and x-raying the paws of cats who have already been declawed. Using scientific evidence-based medicine, Doub’s is demonstrating that cats who have been declawed suffer horrendously and needlessly.
Some of the extremely disturbing and shocking results of Dr. Doub’s study are featured in part two of this article.