The American Veterinarians Who Lie

The American veterinarians lie - a script for the receptionist

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I allege that many tens of thousands of American veterinarians regularly lie to their customers about the operation called onychectomy, the scientific term for declawing which is a highly misleading word for the removal of the last phalange of the toe – a severe mutilation.

However, the lie is not in the use of misleading language (but the language is a part of the web of lies). It is far worse than that. It is a plain example of fraud and misrepresentation.

Some veterinary clinics provide their receptionists and vet techs with a prepared script that they must follow when talking about declawing with the customer. The script is a lie. It is lying by omission.

The script does not explain what declawing is. The script deliberately leaves out the bits that would put a customer off. The receptionist is not allowed to explain that the operation is an amputation of part of the cat’s toe. Oh no….The customer is left with the impression that it is removing the “nail” only. They have no idea there will be a gaping hole where the claw once was and that the cat will be doped up with the strongest possible pain killers and suffer possible debilitating complications.

Of course, the customer can ask probing questions and if so the answers will probably be honest unless there is a script for that too. But, no one asks questions. They trust their vet to be honest. The vet relies on his status in society to successfully mislead and feel immune from being sued. It is the worst kind of breach of trust.

We can say with complete confidence that tens of thousands of American veterinarians (“doctors”) lie by omission to their customers.

Lying by omission is deliberately leaving out an important fact to deceive the recipient of the statement. Many cat owners will have misconceptions about declawing. They need to be educated and informed; part of the vet’s job. Omitting to tell the whole story is unforgivable.

Lying by omission could be a misrepresentation in the USA. Depending on the state’s legal code it should be actionable as a misrepresentation in contract law. Let’s see some customers sue their lying vets.

Perhaps there are a few hundred vets who don’t declaw. There are 97,000 vets in the US (2012). The percentage of declared non-declawers to the total is about 0.3% – miniscule. I have to conclude and allege that many American veterinarians routinely lie to their customers and let’s not forget they are also routinely in flagrant breach of their oath.

  1. Important Note: I don’t like writing these articles but my love of animals and cats compells me to do it because millions of cats are suffering unnecessarily because of this deception.
  2. Source about scripts for employees “Some practices employ ‘scripts’ that staff members must follow or face chastisement”. Dr. Robinson, DVM, DO, Dipl. ABMA, FAAMA, oversees complementary veterinary education at Colorado State University.
  3. Article by Elisa on a similar subject.

43 thoughts on “The American Veterinarians Who Lie”

  1. Michael, did that make any sense? Little Feeny was rescued on a little mission πŸ˜‰ I’m fairly certain that in the time he spent out on the streets, he was temporarily taken in by a nurturing dog. I will never know. When we rescued him, he had been abused. The wounds and scars showed. This is the very image that makes me lose sleep at night, as many of you, too -actually more so- have experienced in attempting to eradicate the injustices and unfathomable out there. You know that I do not like to bring this up again. I just feel that for me to quietly go about it is more effective, and I will work harder at it, to do just a tiny little bit. (I just wish that I had the strength that I see in many of you.)

  2. It’s truly horrible about that poor little kitten but while some vets legally mutilate cats, albeit under anaesthetic, there is little chance that cat haters will ever stop illegally abusing them.

    • This is why I don’t know how to deal with it like you do. If you isolate yourself, as I seem to do] then the frustration levels get so bad, you abuse yourself. This is exactly what we cannot do!

  3. Thats for sure, that made me feel so depressed. No Cat or Kitten deserves that treatment or even any animal I really cant understand why in america the practise is legal. Its soo hard to understand as over here. Its a no no. Why would anyone bother.

  4. I don’t know, Michael. I finally received a letter back from my personal veterinarian of 20+ years, Dr. Becky Arnold of her practice All-Feline Hospital here in Lincoln, NE. I have stated this in comments on your website many times…she is the best feline doctor I know of in the Midwest of USA. She holds degrees in Psychology as well. Her surgical expertise qualifies her to lecture at many universities, both private and state. When I first met her, she had just pieced back together, stitch by stitch, a black kitten who had been skinned alive with pliers, presumably. That kitten was still in her office a year later, even though I knew she took him home every night. Since fully grown and well -adjusted, if you can imagine.
    The point that I am getting to is this: the reply she sent me (and I know that I was brash, for who rescues every single feral cat in town? Dr. Becky, neutering and spaying and shots for free–every last one of them. Yet I had to let go of her because of P-o-C telling me that I was wrong for using a veterinarian who still declaws here in the USA? My cats had to rely on me for their needs, as I was so conflicted as to what to do. I have since come to terms with this as best I can. She sent me a letter which she should not have had to send, in my humble opinion. She is down to four declaws per month which she feels is good, but not good. She, with her PhD in Human Psychology, is able to talk most clients down when it comes to the declaw that they are after.
    I am no longer feeling conflicted, Ruth, Michael, for the Cat House, my own intuition and my cats tell me that I should not feel anything but pride for what she has done.

    And, you can bet that soon, she WILL be the only nondeclaw vet. in Nebraska. Thanks for reading this. [Ruth you have keine idee how strongly I feel about not declawing.]

    • Cal, I would never say to you that you were wrong to use a veterinarian who declaws cats. I would never say that because there are so few veterinarians who do not carry out this operation. Also, no one has any right to lecture anybody else on this subject. I respect the opinions of others. I think the argument is that if you can find a veterinarian who does not declaw cats it is better to employ that person.

      She sounds like a good veterinarian. I do not want you to feel upset over this. I’m sure you are doing the right thing. I hope that this veterinarian can fully stop doing this operation as I feel that it will do her a lot of good psychologically not to declaw cats any more.

      • Yes. Believe me when I say that she must harbor a much bigger conflict than you or I know. Thanks, Michael, I always trust your opinion.

    • Caroline! OMG! You mean someone actually de-clawed a little kitten with pliers?? I would love to meet that ‘person’!!

      This is the problem as well as soon as someone comes up with heinous horrors such as this along with ear clipping and tail docking some evil, sick clever dick will have a go at the DIY version!!

      I can see that you are torn where this vet is concerned and I can understand it I don’t know how people get on and I can’t really say anything because I’m not in your shoes.

      • I would hate to meet this person, because I know that I would land myself in jail. I have never had the heart to ask Dr. Becky about what she would have liked to do to those rednecks. She quietly, arduously did what she could, and of course she adopted that little cat. This was twenty+ years ago. I do not know that the small black cat was declawed by them/”it” as well as having his skin stripped from his body. That was certainly a horrendous torture enough.

        • Dear God Caroline I can’t repeat on here what I want to say I too would do a Jail term that poor little mite thank God your vet was on hand to save him and adopt him.

    • Caroline no one has ever said it’s wrong to use a declaw vet if there is not a non declaw vet in your area, you have to put your own cats health first, them not getting the treatment they need wouldn’t stop yours declawing!
      But I could never respect any vet who is declawing, even 4 cats a month, that’s 4 more cats disabled, 4 more times a month she breaks her oath to cause no animal to suffer.
      Compare her with Kirsten Doub, Union Park Vet hospital, the vet who has never declawed a cat and not only that, she is doing a study on declawed cats and how to help them, whilst also getting scientific evidence of how declawing affects cats lives.
      She says:
      Hey Utah Folks! Got a declawed cat or have a friend who has one? I would love to have your cat be part of my study! Your kitty will get free xrays of all tootsies, a free class IV therapeutic laser treatment, and free play time with UPVH staff. All we need is one hour of your kitty’s time! This is a non-invasive nation-wide study with the goal of using evidence based medicine (hard science) to change professional ethical standards. Please pass the word on!’
      My point is that if she and other vets who have never declawed or have stopped declawing, then all vets could stop and declawing would be consigned to the history books for ever.
      Your vet may be the kindest person to SOME cats, but sorry I couldn’t respect her for that while she is ruining other cats lives by mutilating them when she could simply just refuse to do so.
      Let’s just hope she soon realises that each and every cat deserves to live the life they were born to, with their claws, when she stops declawing altogether then I will respect her for the good work she does too.

      • My goodness, Ruth. I truly thought that this was Michael’s reply when it showed up in my email. I really did. Your minds think alike. That is reassuring to me. I had decided what to do already, before I caught the reply tonight/morning. I have now changed my mind, and will show her this. But first, I will email it to her. Thanks, Ruth, Michael. I owe you. <3

        • Caroline I really feel for you and admire you very much for persisting in trying to ‘educate’ your vet. Hopefully she will read about Kirsten’s good example and follow it! She could learn from other vets too, like Jennifer Conrad and her colleagues at the Paw Project, I wonder if your vet has seen the Paw Project movie? Also Jean Hofve, her Little Big Cat website has a lot about the cruelty of declawing.
          Good luck, people like you, clients of vets who declaw because you have no choice but persist in pointing out to them how wrong it is, who might hopefully get them to see reason and stop.

          • Thank you so much, Ruth. I forgot to reply to show my thanks, I was so busy processing what you said, and organizing my thoughts so that I could send off another respectful email to my Dr. Becky Arnold, DVM, PhD. (The latter is for a doctorate in Psychology, interactions aka engineering and counseling, no doubt.)

            I feel that your response was what I needed to come to terms with what I can actually do within my limits as a layperson and client of a vet. with whom I’ve had 20+ yrs. in a trusting relationship. You have just said so much, that I needed. All of the resources you listed, I am using, now. <3

            • No need for thanks Caroline, I think we can see the situation more clearly here because of never having declawing vets in the UK, to us it’s clearly black and white WRONG, there are no grey areas in our minds, declawing is unthinkably cruel and never right.
              I contacted quite a few vets here when I first found out it was happening in the USA and Canada, all without exception agreed it was unbelievable that any vet would do it. Quite a lot of vets worldwide signed the petition too.
              All the studying and credentials any vet like yours has, seemingly still don’t make them clever enough to know right from wrong and that’s such a pity, helping some cats whilst maiming others just seems such an oxymoron.
              You and many others in your country can see declawing as wrong and feel you have to try to stop it, if you can see it and some vets can see it, then why can’t all vets see it too?
              There is no excuse for declawing ‘only 4 cats a month’ Those cats are as important as all other cats and don’t deserve to go through ten amputations which ruins their lives.
              Good luck Caroline, keep up the good work, anti declaws WILL win this battle one day and we will be so very proud of you over there who are fighting for that x

              • I will add this too, to my email going out tonight, just in case she doesn’t have time to access the PoC link to this page. πŸ˜‰ She is busy, as you can imagine, with every thing she does out of love for the colonies, as well as her practice and lecturing. By the way, I have not yet found anything online re: her surgery lectures, but I know that she does, including those on non-declaw. I’m still searching, but my hunch is that she is low-key, and hopefully, that will soon change…

              • It’s such a shame she declaws at all, because no matter what kind deeds she does also, the declawing taints her πŸ™ and one day the guilt of the cats she has deliberately disabled will surely catch up with her.
                I can’t help wondering if declaw vets just don’t give what they did another thought? They can’t possibly feel satisfied at a ‘job well done’ like when they save an animal’s life by surgery.
                Save some lives, ruin some lives, no I can’t get my head around that.

  5. This is the horrible truth of the matter. Can you imagine how many vets and assistants are guilty of undermining their entire profession. It’s awful and there’s not much more I can add to it.

    • Marc, I can imagine how many vets and staff have deliberately lied by omission: many tens of thousands, perhaps more than 100,000. It unbelievable that such a respected profession can debase their profession so wantonly for money.

      • They are a disgrace to the veterinary profession! I really feel for the vets who have never declawed, it must be horrible for them to know that their colleagues knowingly mutilate cats for money.

    • I can’t imagine any cat loving nurse/tech whatever, holding out a cat’s paws while the vet amputates his/her toe ends, I could never ever have done that! We only once had a client ask for it before it was banned, I swear I would have walked out and taken the cat with me if the vet had agreed. I could feel my head bursting with rage at the very thought. Thankfully he said no vet in the UK would ever agree to declaw a cat…I hope he was right.

      • Nor me Ruth, there’s no excuse for keeping quiet and helping to do such a horrible thing, it’s blood money that’s all. I’d rather scrub floors for a living than accept pay for aiding and abetting that sort of cruelty.


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