Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bill S.222 An Act Prohibiting Inhumane Feline Declawing

Yippee! πŸ˜πŸ’•This news has put a big smile on my face and on the faces of millions of animal advocates in America (and around the world). The legislators of Massachusetts are debating a ban on cat declawing and it looks good for cats and animal advocates. What I mean is that the bill has passed the state Senate unanimously last Thursday.

Senate, January 16, 2024 — The committee on Senate Ways and Means, to whom was referred the Senate Bill prohibiting inhumane feline declawing (Senate, No. 190),- reports, recommending that the same ought to pass with an amendment substituting a new draft with the same title (Senate, No. 2552).

The state’s website.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The bill was sponsored and supported by South Coast legislators. One of the original sponsors of the bill is State Sen. Marc Montigny, D-New Bedford. The bill received a favourable reception from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

I would hope and expect this to become law and if it does the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – as they grandly call the state on their website – will become the third American state to ban declawing after New York; first state to outlaw declawing and secondly, Maryland which outlawed the abusive, money-making operation in 2022.

Senator Montigny said:

“Declawing is an abhorrent practice that most veterinarians view as inhumane. But it is also a procedure that is widely misunderstood and requested by owners. By passing this legislation, veterinarians will no longer have to weigh the choice knowing that if they don’t provide the procedure an owner is likely to just look for someone who will.”

Senator Montigny

By now, I would expect almost everybody to understand that the word “declawing” is a complete misrepresentation and misnomer for the operation which is far more than simply removing a cat’s nails. To remind people, the declawing operation removes the last phalange i.e. the distal phalange from the last joint of each toe on which the claw is fixed. It is ten amputations. Ouch! 😧

The veterinarian simply cuts through the joint and cuts the tendons and everything else. Sometimes they cut into the bone leaving shards of bone in the paw which causes, as you can imagine, lots of pain for the long-term future affecting the cat’s gait and life in general unless a kindly veterinarian carries out repair surgery. There are veterinarians in America who specialise in declaw repair surgery.

Sometimes the solution to remove long-term pain is to make the cat through another operation walk on their feet rather than their toes. Remember the cat is a digitograde.

RELATED: Dr. Ron Gaskin is a good vet who performs declaw repair surgeries

Veterinarians historically have fought against a ban. They fight tooth and nail to stop legislators enacting bills to ban the procedure. They always argue that it is up to the owner in conjunction with the veterinarian to decide whether to declaw or not. That almost invariably ends up with the wrong outcome because there are too many veterinarians in America who either promote the declawing operation or are willing to do it. They don’t provide the client, the cat’s owner, with proper advice. Many do, certainly. But many don’t. That’s why you have to ban the procedure.

Declawing of cats, except when medically required, is an unnecessary surgery that causes behavioral and physical harm.

Dr. Erin Doyle, senior vice president of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services at the Animal Rescue League of Boston

And this ban like the other statewide bans would mean that Massachusetts’ veterinarians could not carry out the declawing procedure on cats throughout the state for non-therapeutic reasons. Non-therapeutic reasons are almost invariably why cats are declawed. It’s about doing what the owner wants because they are frightened of claws or they don’t like their furniture being scratched and damaged. That’s why the operation is entirely inhumane as agreed by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I won’t go on. By now, the world knows that cat declawing is inhumane. It is blatantly cruel. It is immoral and unethical and all veterinarians who do it are in blatant breach of their oath to do no harm to their patients. They always overlook that unfortunate bit of information.

Let’s pray (I am an atheist 😎) that this Massachusetts bill passes through to law and we can then tick another box and say a third US state has banned this obnoxious procedure and then we move onto the next state and the next and the next until the whole of America outlaws this aberrant procedure for ever. Better still what about a federal law asap?

RELATED: Cat declawing myths and truths

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