Discussing the Poll on Declawing and Devocalisation
Feb 2011: Susan Woodhouse kindly directed me to this infamous poll. I’d like to say that I have not seen the actual cold poll data. I have seen a lot of duplicated stories that are built around the poll’s findings. They are all exactly the same; the same words but no reference to how the poll was conducted etc..
For example, the poll concluded that “Nearly 60 percent of American pet owners….say declawing is OK” But it does not qualify that by adding under what circumstances. I presume it means under any circumstances but I would be surprised if that was the case.
Without wishing to be overly critical, the poll is not only imprecise but a little confusing because both “pet owners” and “cat owners” were polled leading to lack of clarity for me.
Please understand that this is a brainstorming session, no more. I am trying to figure out why declawing cats exists in North America and nowhere else. There is no intention to criticise. The intention is to better understand the root causes to then find fundamental solutions.
Without also wishing to be overly politically correct, the way that the authors have described cats as “pets” and the caretakers as “pet owners” indicates a lack of empathy with cats and dogs. The concept of ownership does not sit well with companion animals even if outdated law says they are our property.
I present the figures that I have read on the internet below. This is a straight list.
As Susan said, it makes depressing reading to be honest. Although we do not have earlier polls against which we can make comparisons.
I strongly suspect that some 20 or more years ago the figures would indicate a much higher percentage of people who accepted declawing. Let’s remind ourselves that at one time not so long ago veterinarians were not sure if cats felt pain! Some still aren’t sure..:).
It would be nice to see a gradual drift towards rejecting declawing in mainstream American households.
So what do I make of these figures? I see a deeply entrenched attitude towards accepting declawing that has somehow been born out of the idea that cats are “only animals” or “only cats” and people are superior beings. With that mentality we are able to do as we wish with cats. It is our God given right. And I think God plays a role in this misconception. It is the declawing disconnect.
Once again I don’t want to upset anyone but unenlightened bible bashing style Christianity does rather tend to make people feel special and different to the world’s other creatures. In a very subtle way, it tends to promote declawing. I know that is a provocative statement but I believe it. See Speciesism. Please don’t misunderstand me though. I respect Christians and Christianity. There are many wonderful Christian visitors to this site. I just disagree with what I would consider distortions of its true beliefs.
Middle America is far more religious than the UK. The UK is quite secular. Religion is dying in the UK. Is this a factor why declawing is 100% unacceptable in the UK.
Why is there declawing in America and not in Europe? At one time Americans were immigrant Europeans and Native Americans. We are essentially the same people. Has anyone got any ideas? Is the second amendment partly to blame: the right to bear arms? This may perpetuate what is for me at least a throw back to the 18th century when hunting and shooting was a part of life.
I wonder if the poll I am discussing would have produced an entirely different result if it had been conducted in say the state of New York or Maine? I have no idea but I also have no idea about the sample of the people polled. Where are these people? I think the poll really needed to be more precise and scientific to carry weight.
The worrying thing for me is the way declawing is so integral to the America way of life. I really sense that it is hard wired into a large segment of American society. This will take years to remove. It will change but the large percentage who find declawing acceptable and the small percentage who want it banned means a long journey before change takes place.
An interesting statistic is that there is the odd perception that devocalising dogs is much worse than declawing cats. Are they that different? I don’t think so. Where does that difference come from? Perhaps the vets have informed dog caretakers that the devocalisation operation is dangerous and that there is a high risk of complications whereas declawing is very straightforward.
If that is the case dog caretakers might have different ideas if the operation was easy. There’s a depressing thought.
It also means that the vets dictate the situation. If vets told people that declawing caused behavioral problems and lots of pain rather promote the opposite, that it is a routine operation like neutering, it is likely that over time the shockingly high numbers of people who accept declawing would come down to devocalisation levels.
One last point comes to mind. The people of America quite rightly don’t want laws to erode their freedoms; their right to make their own decisions. I agree with that. This is probably why the percentage of people for a ban on declawing is relatively low. The trouble is that when a process such as declawing is deeply ingrained as being acceptable it will be a very long time before that culture evolves naturally towards deciding that declawing is immoral. Under these circumstances, a legal ban is right and proper to speed things up. Law also changes opinion. However, the obstacles to creating legislation to ban declawing are massive because the majority of people don’t want it. What politician would promote such legislation? He or she would be out on his ear.