AB 2743 – the landlord-renter declawing and debarking bill
Californian government with a protest outside - Photo by Steve Rhodes (Flickr)
The politicians who drafted the landlord-renter declawing and debarking bill are to blame for the veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is a great bill, a fine goal, but the drafting was too ambitious, it reached too far on the basis of what I read in the press. That is a controversial point but I would like to explore it. And please don't forget I hate declawing and want it stopped more than most people but things have to progress at a pace that the public and legislators can digest. See an earlier post on this.
There is no doubt that this is a much needed bill. It is a sensible bill and no one except the vets and some landlords oppose it.
Lets remind ourselves that a bill is a draft statute. It is a statute that is yet to become law. A statute is law that has been debated on as a bill and then written by government draftspeople.
I will focus on declawing in this article.
Landlords can recover any loss caused by a cat that might damage a landlord's properly by retaining some or all of the deposit that is placed with a third party (in the UK). In other words he or she is protected and any more protection at the expense of the domestic cat is wholly unnecessary, unreasonable and immoral.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "I support the goal of this bill, which would preclude landlords from making inappropriate medical decisions as a condition of occupancy...". He supports the bill.
But in so many words he criticizes the drafting of the bill. He blames its wide terms for preventing him agreeing it. There is no reason to my knowledge why some of the declarations in the first part of the bill (the preamble I would call this) had to be in the bill.
The full bill can be seen here. But I cover the salient points on this page, so please stay with me.
I think that the parts of the bill that the governor could not sign off are these when read together. The first part is fine. Here it is:
"This bill would prohibit a landlord, that allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises, from advertising or establishing rental policies in a manner that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized,
for nontherapeutic purposes, as a condition of occupancy...
the term, "
for nontherapeutic purposes" is defined later in the bill:
"Nontherapeutic" refers to a surgical procedure that is performed without there being a medical necessity to address the medical condition of an animal, such as an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition that compromises the animal's health..."
These two sections of the bill take out of the equation the rare, extremely rare possibility when a cat is declawed because the owner's health demands it.
Now I am against all declawing for whatever purpose - obviously. A person who can be hurt by a clawed cat should not keep a cat, of course. But we have to change a deeply entrenched culture of declawing in America. We should not reach too far but change by small steps.
The governor has to legislate for the majority of people of California and could not, as I see it, include this section.
In addition the bill declares this:
"Declawing and devocalizing have been associated with unintended behavioral consequences that could lead to potential public health and safety concerns; for example, increased aggression and litter box avoidance..
We know this is true but the vets can produce studies that disprove this statement. The science has been muddied up by the vets so lay people, people without sufficient knowledge, cannot see clearly. And there was no need to put it in. That is the point. It is written in as a "declaration" by the senate. The intention as I see it (and very well intended it was) is to get the Californian government to admit in a statute that declawing causes health problems for the declawed cat. Great. But it is a bit of dressing. It need not be in the bill and it has stopped the bill becoming law, as I see it.
The governor says, "...I cannot sign a measure that contains findings and declarations by the Legislature that are unsupported by science..."
If the bill simply stated that declawing be prohibited as a precondition for a tenant entering into an agreement with a landlord on renting property, the governor would have signed the bill into law - probably. And as I stated some time ago we need a definitive jointly instructed medical study that cuts out all the muddy mess that has deliberately been created by the vets. If that had been in place the governor would have signed off this bill even in its present form.
Conclusion: We need to think long term and chip away at the culture of declawing.
The bill, AB 2743, should be redrafted and resubmitted if the rules of the Californian government allows as it will succeed and it will be one more chip of the block that is the ghastly practice of declawing cats.